An interview with the President of the Howard University Chapter of Students for Barack Obama
Sonny Jackson is a Howard University senior, and the President of the university’s chapter of Students for Barack Obama. Born and raised in Philadelphia Pennsylvania Sonny gave a brief overview of the place that he has come from, “my city averages more than one body per day, and it’s like the Gaza strip out there now.” In an interview, Jackson, 24, explained not only how he joined Students for Barack Obama, but also why he was passionate enough to serve as chair over the entire Howard Chapter.
As he talked about growing up in the inner-city streets of Philadelphia, things like soccer games on the weekends and birthday parties were far from anything he would have the opportunity to enjoy. “Those kids didn’t care about nothing, they’d cut your head off for a dime bag of dirt” said Sonny while explaining the enormous role that drugs played in the lives of children in his neighborhood back at home. Sonny was exposed to the streets at a very young age, but it was the more glamorous life that truly intrigued him. “I’ll never forget the lawyer who had the neighborhood on the vanity plate of his Mercedes Benz; he was a cocky, arrogant, obnoxious man, but a man of great accomplishments,” explained Sonny, as he thought back to when becoming a successful black man in America was rare.
Jackson has been working with “Students for Barack Obama” since the beginning of the 2007-2008 academic year. He started as a volunteer, moved up to event coordinator, and was finally appointed Chairman over the Howard University Chapter by the Obama Campaign Committee in November of 2007.
Part of the reason why Jackson began supporting Obama was because for the first time, he felt like he could actually relate to a presidential candidate. Like Obama, Jackson was raised in a single parent home. Jackson’s mother, Delaware Sate Alumni, raised Jackson with a broad awareness and strong level of humility towards the less fortunate children of his community. Although he aspired to be extremely successful, he never employed himself in the business of opportunism.
Jackson explained obtaining overall support for the Obama Campaign as being “acquired gradually.” “I initially supported Hillary Clinton, but after I heard a speech from Senator Obama at Howard University, I decided to take a second look at the political playing field and immerse myself in knowledge of all the candidates.”
Jackson describes Senator Obama as being somewhat of a hero within the African-American community and the person who is offering it a “glimmer of hope.” He explains that the reason he was eventually deterred from all of the other candidates was that they all offered the same tradition of national separation and division within our country. “I’m not one to B.S. anyone about what I see going on in the campaigns, so I’m being sincere in saying that I don’t feel like Obama’s entire agenda will be Black, Black, Black, the day that he is inaugurated!”
Much of Jackson’s support for Obama came from the realization that the U.S., as a whole, is now at a crossroads in history and traditional campaign promises, strategies, and rhetoric are not as meaningful as they once were. Attempting to go further than the Democratic Party candidates, I asked Jackson to tell me what he thought of the less talked about Republican Party and their candidates. “The 80’s saw an explosion of crack hit the streets; it wasn’t some punks on every corner selling small samples of low quality drugs at higher prices, there was prosperity in the neighborhoods!” laughs a sarcastic Jackson. “Isn’t it ironic that the Republicans coin Ronald Regan as the great savior and Nancy Regan as the D.A.R.E. program spokesperson, when the explosion of Crack-Cocaine didn’t occur until Regan was, in fact, president?” Jackson’s belief, that the Republican Party has never cared about the state of African-Americans, is so strong that it has completely deterred him from ever being involved in initiatives or advocacy regarding any Republican Party presidential candidates. Jackson believes beyond the shadow of a doubt the Obama is sincerely a team player. “Obama’s candidacy and potential presidency will turn the national visions of improvement and change into everyday realities.” He views Obama’s candidacy as being bigger than Obama himself and even through much political controversy, he is almost certain that Obama will become the next President of the United States of America.