Jesse Jackson pushes for technological equality in Silicon Valley

Lyanne Melendez Image
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Jesse Jackson encourages Oakland students to pursue STEM careers
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Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson was in Oakland Wednedsay and spoke with Oakland Tech High School students about pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson was in Oakland Wednesday to push for technological equality. Jackson told students at Oakland Tech High School they must pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math. At the same time, he urged Silicon Valley companies to hire and train more minorities.

A seasoned civil rights leader, Jesse Jackson is still recognized and respected even among a much younger generation of Oakland teens.

Jackson's newest mission is to increase technology in schools with large numbers of minorities, like Oakland Tech. He also wants Silicon Valley to invest in them.

"Charity begins at home, love begins at home, development begins at home," Jackson said. There are youth right now who should be aspiring to be STEM scholars."

His organization, Rainbow-Push Coalition donated $15,000 in college scholarships Wednesday. It's not a huge amount, but Jackson expects tech companies to contribute more.

Anthony Johnson is one of a few students who sat down with Jackson, encouraged by his message of optimism.

"I just feel he's still trying to fight because there are still problems that are going on. There is still stuff in technology we should be more aware of. He is just trying to open up our eyes," Johnson said.

Oakland Tech now offers advanced courses in technology, something that was not available two years ago.

Oakland Tech High School student Dionica Ruiz says there are still many obstacles for women and minorities.

"I think mostly we don't see ourselves represented as scientists as we grow up, but also the environment of a class that's male dominant," Ruiz said.

Jackson also proposed a new way to make technology more accessible to underserved communities.

"We want 1,000 churches with lab techs in churches," Jackson added.

It's a unique idea that Jackson hopes will get some traction.