By Brian Henry
African Americans have deep roots in Wall Street ー which is precisely why civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson wants to close the race gap in finance.
"Four-hundred years ago African-Americans actually built the walls on Wall Street, that's why it's called Wall Street," Jackson told Cheddar Wednesday.
"The big slave trade market was New York, importing Africans and exporting cotton and tobacco. So we have roots here. And now we return 400 years later with 55 congresspeople."
As part his mission, Jackson is marking the 22nd year of the Wall Street Economic Summit, which challenges corporate America to create equal opportunities for people of color.
Looking beyond finance, Jackson said that although progress has been made in U.S. politics, serious work remains before true equality is achieved.
"Our democracy is growing faster than our economic growth is taking place. Now we are in what I call, the fourth stage of our struggle. From slavery to Jim Crow, [to the right to vote], to access to capital."
He said that corporations don't always take into consideration the will of communities, citing Amazon ($AMZN) as an example.
"If you come into a community as Amazon was about to do here, you must make a pact with the community," he said. "The youth in that community should be trained. If you come in with 25,000 jobs people who live there can't have, then you're going to gentrify them out, you create resistance."
Jackson added that more major corporations should prioritize diversity in their hiring processes.
"They should not be dismissed. They represent market and money and talent and location and growth. So it's a kind of cultural deficiency not to see them for the value that they bring to the table."
As many Americans look ahead in anticipation of the 2020 presidential race, Jackson isn't ready to pick any favorites.
"We don't know who's going to be in the ring," he said.
For full interview click here.