Jesse Jackson: 'We Will Not Surrender'

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:27 PM EDT

( - Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson Wednesday promised "massive, nonviolent demonstrations around America" in January to protest the end of the manual vote recount in Florida.

"It's not about Democrats, it's about democracy," Jackson said in an interview on NBC's Today Show. "We want the vote of Americans to count."

Jackson said it's up to George W. Bush to extend an olive branch to him and other African-Americans. "He must overcome the illegitimacy that this court placed upon him," Jackson said of Bush, adding that Bush does not have "the consent of the governed."

"We have difficulty certifying Bush's on moral grounds, but having said that, we must somehow figure out a way beyond our pain to heal our wounds," Jackson said.

"I am open to relate to any American president," Jackson said later, "Because the stakes are so high for us. After all, we must fight for health care, we must fight for a foreign policy that's fair, we must fight for first-class education for all I will meet with the President and always try to do what's right for America, but the burden's really upon him (Bush)."

"The highest court has had some very low moments," Jackson said, using the 1857 Dred Scott case an example of a low moment. In Dred Scott, the Supreme Court declared no slave or descendant of a slave could be a U.S. citizen. The ruling ignored the fact that black men in five of the original States had been full voting citizens dating back to 1776.

Another low moment for the high court came Tuesday night, Jackson said, when the justices once again "disenfranchised Americans," as Jackson put it.

Jackson said one way or another, there will be a recount of disputed ballots, as news organizations, civil rights groups and others get a look at the ballots under Florida's open records law.

And when that recount happens, Jackson said, "It will be revealed that Al Gore in fact won the national and the Florida count...We can afford to lose an election, but not lose the franchise of Americans, and that is really what is at stake here."

Jackson again decried obstacles he says black voters faced on Election Day, including broken machines, police roadblocks, and names left off voting lists. "We will continue our quest to get the Department of Justice to act" on alleged civil rights violations, Jackson said.

While noting that Al Gore's legal options are reduced in light of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Jackson said the civil rights options will continue, and those options include a massive demonstration around the Martin Luther King holiday - which just happens to fall near January 20 - Inauguration Day.