The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. this week attacked the comments made about African Americans by suspended "Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson — contrasting them with what Rosa Parks faced on an Alabama bus in 1955.
"At least the bus driver, who ordered Rosa Parks to surrender her seat to a white person, was following state law," Jackson said on Tuesday in a statement published by the Chicago Tribune.
"Robertson’s statements were uttered freely and openly without cover of the law, within a context of what he seemed to believe was 'white privilege.'"
Parks refused to obey the driver of a bus in Montgomery on Dec. 1, 1955, and give up her seat on a segregated bus to a white person. The incident led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a watershed event in the civil rights movement.
Parks died in 2005 in Detroit at age 92.
Robertson, 67, in an interview in the January issue of GQ magazine, said that he picked cotton with African Americans as a youth in Louisiana and never saw “the mistreatment of any black person” — noting that they were “singing and happy” and that they did not complain about white people.
The remarks, along with disparaging comments about gays, led the A&E cable network to quickly put Robertson on indefinite suspension from the filming of the show's fifth season.
A&E said that Robertson's views did not represent those of the network, which has always been "strong supporters of the LGBT community."
"Duck Dynasty" is about a rural Louisiana family that makes duck calls. One of the highest-rated shows on cable, the program gets an estimated 14 million viewers every week.
While Robertson was slammed by anti-gay groups and others for his remarks, A&E's move prompted widespread attacks by conservatives and Republican politicians — ranging from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a likely contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.
Jackson and his civil rights group, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, wants A&E to keep Robertson on indefinite hiatus, the Tribune reports. Jackson's protest included leaders of the LGBT group GLAAD and the National Organization for Women.
“It is unacceptable that a personality who has been given such a large platform would benefit from racist and anti-gay comments,” the groups' leaders said in the release.
They also are trying to meet with network executives and officials of Cracker Barrel, which briefly removed "Duck Dynasty" merchandise from its shelves but restored them after consumer protests.
"We respect all individuals' right to express their beliefs," the company, based in Lebanon, Tenn., said in a released published by the Tribune. "We certainly did not mean to have anyone think different."
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