Community

The Rev. Jesse Jackson will be in Louisville next week for a forum on race relations and to respond to comments made by Donald Trump earlier this year about African-American voters.

During a string of campaign stops this summer, Trump, the Republican candidate for president, pitched African-American voters by asking “what do you have to lose” by casting a vote for him.

“Look, it is a disaster the way African-Americans are living in many cases, and in many cases, the way Hispanics are living. And I say it with such a deep-felt feeling: What do you have to lose,” Trump said at an August campaign rally in Ohio, according to a report from The Washington Post.

Such statements create “an image that the black community is one in devastation and crises,” said the Rev. Kevin Cosby, senior pastor at St. Stephen Baptist Church and president of Simmons College of Kentucky.

“It’s important that all communities, especially the black community, be politically alert and informed on what the issues are so we can make not knee-jerk decisions, but informed decisions,” Cosby said.

He said Jackson will also likely discuss other “critical issues of race that are confronting America today,” including community and police relations and gun violence.

“Those are all political issues,” Cosby said. “He’s got to address those questions to see if we lose or if we benefit by having a President Trump in office.”

Jackson is endorsing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for president and has made several stops across the country touting Clinton.

He made two unsuccessful bids for the Democratic nomination in 1984 and 1988.

Cosby said it’s an honor to have Jackson in Louisville just weeks after the first presidential debate between Trump and Clinton. Jackson was among those in attendance for the debate.

Cosby called Jackson “walking history,” citing his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement alongside Dr. Martin Luther King.

“There would not be a Barack Obama had their not first been a Jesse Jackson,” Cosby said.

Jackson is being hosted by the West Louisville Forum, which is sponsored by Simmons College of Kentucky. He’ll speak at the St. Stephen Family Life Center on October 5 at noon. He’ll also speak at St. Stephen Baptist Church later that evening, Cosby said.

The forum series is free and open to the public.

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.