Rev. Jesse Jackson Calls For More Diversity in the Entertainment and Tech Industry at Cannes Lions
Black Enterprise magazine Fall 2019 issue

The Rev. Jesse Jackson took a jab at Hollywood and Silicon Valley for their lack of diversity while speaking at Cannes Lions, an annual seven-day festival that convenes renowned speakers, professionals, and leaders who work in advertising and creative communications.

The outspoken civil rights leader took the stage last Tuesday for a fireside chat with Richard Edelman, the founder of the global communications marketing firm, Edelman. During the session, Jackson petitioned advertisers to use their platform to promote diversity and be more inclusive of minorities.

“You can change the world, your platform is powerful and your power to do good is immense. Advertising over the years has helped to push boundaries and knock down walls. Topics such as interracial and same-sex marriage have been brought to the forefront of the social consciousness in no small measure through their depiction in advertising,” he said, reports The Guardian.

When asked how media can play a bigger role in promoting diversity, Jackson responded by saying all groups of people must be welcomed to a seat at the table. “By inviting them in. That’s the first thing. And by leadership showing an example. We must tell that story. If you constantly hear ‘no,’ and see ‘no,’ then you believe ‘no.’ You must mean to go out and open up the marketplace.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Jackson also pushed the entertainment industry to promote healthy images of women and people from diverse backgrounds.

“For too long, Hollywood has stereotyped people in ways that have either damaged the culture or been indifferent to change,” he said.  “Hollywood must open up and tell the truth and be inclusive to who can bring films. It needs to tell more positive, Schindler’s List-type stories with a broader base.”

At another point, he called out major tech giants for not opening the door for people of color.

“Amazon does not have a person of color on their board, Facebook does not have a person of color on their board—and these are our allies,” he said at a press conference. “There have to be opportunities there [and] they have to see it as value-added. It’s not a zero-sum game.”

On the other hand, the respected minister praised Coca-Cola and General Motors for giving women and minorities the opportunity to work in executive-level positions.