Jesse Jackson Accused of Sexual Assault
Journalist and producer Danielle Young has come forward accusing former U.S. representative Jesse Jackson, 76, of sexual harassment. Admitting that in the past she had been reluctant to speak out, she says that the well-known politician squeezed her thigh and inappropriately grabbed her. Recalling her experience with The Root, she says,
What happened to me was something that was so casual, I almost didn’t even consider it sexual harassment, even though it was beyond my desire. I used to work for a very popular media company, and we had a meeting that ended with a keynote speech by the living legend, the Rev. Jesse Jackson. So, of course, the conference room was packed wall-to-wall. After Jackson’s riveting and inspiring speech about the responsibility of black journalists, we all lined up to take a photo with him. One by one, we stepped up, shared a few words and thank-yous with Jackson, snapped photos and went back to our desks. Simple enough, right?
I walked toward Jackson, smiling, and he smiled back at me. His eyes scanned my entire body. All of a sudden, I felt naked in my sweater and jeans. As I walked within arm’s reach of him, Jackson reached out a hand and grabbed my thigh, saying, “I like all of that right there!” and gave my thigh a tight squeeze. I was shocked, to say the least. Even though Jackson had had his hand reached out, I had no idea that he would touch me in a sexual way. I did what most women in an uncomfortable position do: I giggled. And I continued to giggle as he pulled me in closer, stared down at my body, smiled and told me he was only kidding. The entire time, my co-worker snapped photos.
Young says she spoke to a former female colleague about what happened.
I reached out to a former co-worker who was in the conference room, who also had lined up to get her own photos with Jackson, and she said: “I remember him being inappropriate with all the women. And I also remember you telling me that he did something more with you. And then we brushed the shit off and chalked it up to him just being a dirty old man.” But that’s not enough. I personally never wanted to say anything because my situation was just a thigh grab. Barely a blip on anyone’s radar, even my own. Jackson’s tight grip doesn’t even measure up to what any of the victims of Harvey Weinstein and others have had to endure; however, I was uncomfortable and had to swallow the lump in my throat as I stood right beside the civil rights leader.
Honestly, I think it’s worth it for women to speak out against men who simply can’t keep their hands to themselves. Because that’s where it starts. My silence gave Jackson permission to continue grabbing at the next pair of thick thighs he liked. I’m hoping that my voice does the opposite.
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