Civil rights leader the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who worked with Dr Martin Luther King in the 1960s, has paid a visit to the East End, where he spent an afternoon with teachers, students and parents at the London Enterprise Academy (LEA) in Tower Hamlets.
The Reverend Jackson praised the work of the school and congratulated the students on their achievements in education, sports and the arts. Speaking to students and staff, he shared stories of his struggles and his campaigns for freedom and justice.
Reverend Jackson asked pupils to aim high and big. He said, “I want to see pupils of London Enterprise Academy dream of becoming the Prime Minister of the UK, of Bangladesh and Somalia. Everything is possible if you want it.” He shared one of his famous sayings: “If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it.” He also thanked LEA Principal Ashid Ali for hosting his visit and for arranging a reception, and a birthday cake, to celebrate his 80th birthday.
The Headteacher commented, “As a youngster fighting for racial equality in my hometown of Oldham, I was inspired by the relentless drive and spirit of this great man and I’m so proud that our children and staff have been blessed by his visit here today. Thank you, Channel S, for the excellent coverage of this historic visit by the Reverend Jesse Jackson to London Enterprise Academy. It was a privilege to host this and celebrate his work and birthday.”
Guests included Ayesha Qureshi MBE; Ohid Ahmed, the first Statutory Deputy Mayor of Tower Hamlets; Taz Choudhury, CEO of Channel S UK; Subas Subaskaran, Lyca Group Chair; Nimco Ali OBE – international campaigner for equality; the Rt Hon. Keith Vaz, former Minister for Europe; and Wapping Councillor Abdal Ullah. During a short speech, Mr Vaz stated that he chose the London Enterprise Academy to host this visit as it had an excellent reputation for regular and ongoing community engagement.
While he was an undergraduate, Reverend Jackson became involved in the civil rights movement. In 1965 he went to Selma, Alabama, to march with Martin Luther King. The civil rights veteran also highlighted injustices and called on communities to unite to ensure fair representation and recognition of their efforts.
The London Enterprise Academy has named the school sports hall in honour of the man who has twice been a US presidential candidate.
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