WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) – During the Young and Powerful Presidential Brunch at recent inaugural festivities, the Rev. Jesse Jackson announced plans to organize college students around the county to protest student loan interest rates.

The group Young and Powerful for Obama organized the brunch and other inaugural activities as part of efforts to support the new president and promote greater civic activism and engagement.

“The struggle continues. If we don’t benefit from this time period hope turns to despair. If we don’t benefit substantially people will say, ‘I told you so.’ I want one million young people to sign up for reduced loan rates. We need activism to begin,” said the longtime civil rights leader.


“We want to demand a reduced student interest rate to one percent. They give banks one percent money. Why can’t they give students what they give banks? This will be a national campaign. You come out of school with guaranteed debt not a guaranteed job,” Rev. Jackson told the standing room only crowd.

“It’s not your age that defines you. You might be 14 like Emmitt Till or 80 like Nelson Mandela,” said Rev. Jackson. “What must you do that’s public policy worthy of your energy? Rosa Parks was in the NAACP. What can you do now to change the law?” he asked.

Rev. Jackson told the audience that college students graduate with an average debt of $62,000.

“It’s easier to go to jail than to go to school. Black students have the same economic concerns. Why can’t you take up this concern? There needs to be a student uprising around the country. You want the same deal as the banks. They are giving away billions to the banks. Who needs it more? Black schools are facing foreclosure,” said Rev. Jackson in Jan. 18 remarks.

“We started as young professionals between 21 and 35 in D.C., with the Young and Powerful Happy Hour. We socialized and networked. We were big supporters of President Obama when he was a senator,” group founder Jarvis Houston explained to The Final Call. “When his campaign started we knew we had to do something.” So with help from Felix Sorgho and My’Ron McGhee, Young and Powerful for Obama was born.

Since 2007 the group organized young professionals around the country between ages 21 and 35 to raise funds, register people to vote and to campaign for then Sen. Obama. The group now includes seven chapters in 11 cities nationwide and has raised more than $150,000 from 10,000 donors. Their mission is to encourage civic engagement and aid the community in efforts to achieve a higher social, economic, and intellectual status.

Young and Powerful for Obama’s weekend events included balls, community service projects, a sold-out presidential brunch featuring Georgetown University professor Dr. Michael Eric Dyson and a political roundtable at Howard University hosted by BET’s Jeff Johnson.

Dr. Dyson cautioned the audience to not believe America was moving into a post-racial era with the Obama election victory. “Hope doesn’t mean post-racial. I’m a Black man. That’s all I know how to be. You can’t destroy the very thing that made people love you,” he said. “We can’t be post-racial. Whiteness is rendered invisible. It is seen as universal. You have to transcend the negative views about race. You can’t get over race unless you get through race. Race is godly. Racism is demonic. We affirm many races. Multiracial is beautiful.”