E.W. Jackson, the Virginia GOP’s nominee for lieutenant governor, began his career as a minister and attorney in Boston. While there, he lent his support to a high-profile 1988 fight against a plan to desegregate public housing developments in the neighborhood of South Boston.
The 1988 battle over housing desegregation in South Boston began after the federal government found the city of Boston had illegally segregated public housing and prevented African Americans from moving into public developments in the neighborhood. Boston was ordered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to come up with a new tenant selection plan or face a federal takeover of its public housing system. As a result, Ray Flynn, the city’s mayor, came up with a desegregation plan.
Local news station WGBH filmed Jackson giving a speech at a July 1988 community meeting in South Boston hosted by opponents of the mayor’s desegregation plan. According to WGBH, at the event Jackson dismissed the desegregation plan as “social engineering.” In his remarks, Jackson characterized the matter as a question of freedom of choice.
“I am so tired of hearing the people of South Boston dumped on by the saviors of mankind that it makes me nauseous,” Jackson said of desegregation advocates. “I can understand the reaction of the people of South Boston apart from the racial issue because I don’t like being told by some bureaucrat how I’m going to live my life either.”
Jackson, who was identified as a radio station manager and pastor of the New Corner Baptist Church in Roxbury, also spoke with a reporter from WGBH. In the interview, he indicated he believed people should be allowed to choose to live separately from members of other races.
“I think that maximum emphasis needs to be put on the ability of people to choose, even if that means some housing developments are predominantly of one race or another,” said Jackson.
The reporter who interviewed him also asked Jackson, who is African-American, if he felt as though he was being “used” by white politicians who opposed the desegregation plan. His response made it clear he fully supported their efforts.
“Well, the scripture says it’s a good thing to be used in a good cause,” Jackson said.
According to the biography on his campaign website, Jackson first moved to Boston with his wife, Theodora, in 1971 as part of his service in the U.S. Marine Corps. He and his wife left the city in 1998, a decision that was partly motivated, by “their desire for an environment more compatible with their conservative and Christian values.”
Since he was nominated to run in the gubernatorial race alongside Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli over the weekend, Jackson has drawn widespread attention for his past comments criticizing gays. He accused President Barack Obama of harboring “Muslim sensibilities.” and A video he once filmed compared Planned Parenthood to the KKK.
Jackson and the Cuccinelli campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Watch the WGBH segment with Jackson here.