Mixed reviews follow Rev. Jesse Jackson's recent Memphis visit

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A recent push by Reverend Jesse Jackson for more minority businesses to get Memphis city contracts is getting backlash.

Many are upset that he's at the forefront of a local movement and others say there should be less concern about the messenger and more focus on the message.

"The disparity gap in Memphis is embarrassing," Jackson said.

His visit has left residue of mixed reviews about whether he is helping or hurting the fight for economic equality in Memphis.

The topic made the front page on Thursday's issue of the New Tri-State Defender.

TSD publisher Bernal Smith II said Jackson's role during the Civil Rights Movement and support for Dr. King's last visit here makes him relevant.

"He carried or attempted to carry on the poor people's campaign and so there's a significant connection to Memphis," Smith said.

There are those who question Jackson's motives with the Rainbow Push Coalition and others who say he should focus on the challenges in Chicago.

Activist and pastor Earle Fisher weighed in also offering commentary in the paper titled "Nobody has a monopoly in the movement."

"Some skepticism is reasonable," Fisher wrote. "Some celebration is warranted... I am seeking to present a possibility of partnership between two entities seemingly advocating for the same thing economic justice."

Smith echoed Reverend Fisher and encouraged those who want change to do the work.

"At the end of the day I see this, one is what are you doing to address the issues or improve upon the problem," Smith said.

Jackson said he is giving the city 30 days to come up with a plan to increase minority city contracts to 50 percent.

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