Back in 1998 and 1999, Donald Trump was the guest of honor at the annual Wall Street Conference held by Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Jackson’s organization, which is based in Washington DC but has a national reach, describes itself as a “multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international membership organization fighting for social change.”
Before Trump spoke in February 1998, Jackson introduced the guest of honor and paid him generous tribute. Jackson said, “We need your building skills, your gusto.” Jackson said of Trump, who had built Trump Tower and other multi-storey projects by then, that he was a model for “people on Wall Street to represent diversity.” A video at C-SPAN recorded the event for posterity.
Among the other guest speakers at the three-day conference in 1998 were US Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Ed Lewis of Essence Communications, and Irving Weiser of the Securities Industry Association.
In 1999, Jackson once again introduced millionaire Trump. Calling him a “friend,” Jackson had invited him to address to speak on the “challenges and opportunities to embrace under-served communities.” Again paying tribute to Trump, Jackson – who once marched with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. – said, “He is deceptive in that his social style is of such, one can miss his seriousness and commitment to success, which is beyond argument.”
He added, “When we opened this Wall Street project, he gave us space at 40 Wall Street, which was to make a statement about our having a presence there.” “Beyond that, in terms of reaching out and being inclusive, he’s done that too,” Jackson added. “He has this sense of the curious and a will to make things better.” “Aside from all of his style, and his pizazz, he’s a serious person who is an effective builder of people.”
Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.