On March 12, 2002, Rob Redding interviewed Barbara Reynolds, the renowned journalist, former Rainbow Push Coalition official, and an associate of Jesse Jackson. In 1975, Ms. Reynolds wrote an unauthorized biography on the famous Civil Rights activist – Jesse Jackson: The Man, The Movement, And The Myth. In early 2002, a white, Conservative writer, Kenneth Timmerman, released his book – Shakedown: Exposing The Real Jesse Jackson. Mr. Timmerman’s work has been advertised and marketed as the first expose on Jesse Jackson. However, Ms. Reynolds’s book, released many years ago, has gone unrecognized by the mainstream media. In fact, her groundbreaking work was very controversial in the mid-1970s, and was used by Mr. Timmerman himself as the basis for his own unauthorized biography on Reverend Jackson. Mr. Redding discussed this – in depth, with Barbara Reynolds. 

 

A former Rainbow Push Coalition insider, who authored the first book on Jesse Jackson, Jesse Jackson: The Man, The Movement, and The Myth – and, she later rewrote the book, editing it, calling it Jesse Jackson: America’s David. Barbara Reynolds, welcome to the show. 

Barbara Reynolds: Thank you for having me. 

I appreciate you for joining the show, on such short notice… 

Barbara Reynolds: Yeah…well, I’m very glad to be on. 

Well, let me just say that…we only had a chance to talk…briefly. But, I’ll tell you this…just the conversation we had…the conversation that we were able to have in the short amount of time we were able to talk…I was astounded that you were able to enlighten me – because I had no idea you had written about Jackson before Timmerman, just tell me about it! 

Barbara Reynolds: Okay well, let me just give you some background…

Please! 

Barbara Reynolds: I was working at The Chicago Tribune, in the late 1960s and early 1970s; and since I knew the Reverend so well, I was given a book contract, to do the first biography. Jackson didn’t want the biography…for me to do it. Because he wanted to say [what he wanted,] he wanted to do it himself. So I did the first unauthorized biography, and the book is still in print…it’s a huge book; it’s over 500 pages. Well, in fact, it’s 187. The point was, when the book came out – a lesser person would have been destroyed. Lesser meaning…God protected me – I fought back. Because I pointed out some things, which we can get to, where Push supporters came after me, threatened my life…tried to destroy my career. And all the things I point to then, are coming out today. People think that the mistresses, the shakedowns, if you will – are something new. But all of this stuff was going on, in the seventies, in the eighties…where I ended my book I just did it in a pretty poetic way…I can read it, “For five years I followed the leader. Now I smile, wave, and wish him well…and I go off, in another direction.” You know, ha-ha…this is the early Jesse; it’s not the Jesse that has become. Sadly enough, it’s the same Jesse.

Yeah…you know, one of the things that I have always told listeners down here about, is people knew about the affair – that produced this little girl – and they knew about it in the Washington Press Corps for awhile, and especially African Americans in the media…and they tried to sit on it. They tried to sit on it for years! 

Barbara Reynolds: Well in fact, in my book…I talk about the affairs with Roberta Flack. Which was very well publicized, well talked about; I talk about a relationship that was trying to come about, with Nancy Wilson, Kim Westin…you know, for an example, I have not known a time when the Reverend has not an affair going on…sadly enough.

Really? 

Barbara Reynolds: Yeah…See, in Chicago, I lived around the corner from him. I used to walk into his house, go into the front door – nice little picnic table kind of structure…in his kitchen…I was very close to him. But when I began to write the book, it tore me apart, because what I thought I knew was not actually, what I could research…in fact, I went back to the balcony scene – where Dr. King was killed – and back to Memphis. And I interviewed people who were there…and none of them said he was on the balcony where Dr. King was shot…none of them said he got blood on his shirt from Dr. King, or from being near Dr. King. And of course they all said Jesse was not the last person Dr. King spoke to…but this is what happened, this is what was reported…and many pictures you usually see, [show] Jesse Jackson standing on the balcony. But that was the day before, and I knew this because I looked at the clothes he had on, and they were different clothes from what he appeared in, in Chicago, which was supposed to be the same day. I pieced it together, and I was the first one to put the scene back together, in my book - and actually show that Jesse was telling blatant lies. 
Now let me ask you this question, did you ever get called by Timmerman, for his book – “Exposing The Real Jesse Jackson”? Barbara Reynolds: Well no…he called me…right before September 11th, 2001. And he said he was writing an article about Jackson, and wanted to get my book.Said he was writing an article, and not a book? 
Barbara Reynolds: That’s what he said, an article.

Okay. 

Barbara Reynolds: So, I sent the book to him, and he said that he would get back to me for an interview; and I never heard from him. And the next thing I know, here is this book…

Wait a minute, wait a minute…Timmerman said (and you know this guy has a degree in Creative Writing), he interviewed you, and you told him…that you were in hiding…in Washington… 

Barbara Reynolds: That’s an absolute lie! I have been a very visible, national figure, for most of my adult life! I appear on a television show, here in Washington on Channel 32; I have my own talk show, called Reynolds’s Rap, that’s on Kathy Hughes’s station; I’m an ordained minister, preaching all over the city and the country…I wasn’t even hiding when these Push folk came after me! I’m not the kind of person that hides! 
I can’t understand why Timmerman would say he interviewed you, and you told him you were hiding in Washington, D.C.

Barbara Reynolds: That’s crazy!! I’m hearing strange little stories; I’ve had different people calling me from across this country, reporting more…lies from this guy!! I don’t know why they’re trying to drag me into this mess with Jackson! Because, I’ve written this book, I got beat up for it…verbally and almost physically…and I’m on to something else! I already told folks what kind of a person Jackson was! 

Wow. This is just remarkable to me. I’m still learning stuff as we’re on the air here. 

Barbara Reynolds: I think it’s good journalism, that you would chase me down. 

Well, everybody in this city knows, that I used to work for a string of publications, so I felt it was my obligation to see if this stuff were true or not. And I just can’t imagine this man saying that you told him you were in hiding. He said he interviewed you, and you said he represented himself as if he were writing an article…

Barbara Reynolds: And he asked for me to send him the book. But there’s a point I want to make: in his book - I have not read it, but heard about it, he calls the Reverend a shakedown artist. But here’s how I put it, “By 1974, Jesse Jackson had created his own economic patronage machine. It was only eight years old, and today, it can muster just enough energy to keep both the leader and the movement chugging along. Yet, Jesse Jackson’s tiny contraption is nothing to scoff at…in time, it will become a bulldozer, if not something to climb aboard, at least something to get out of the way of.” Now this was in the beginning, but it was almost built along Daley’s machine [Richard J. Daley, the legendary/infamous former mayor of Chicago, from 1955 to his death in 1976]. Daley wanted political power, and Jesse went for economic clout. You know, he would get contracts, from big business, to support small businesses (usually Black businesses) who would give contributions to his organization. 

Would he ask people, basically, to pay him to go away? Because I’ve seen that allegation before.

Barbara Reynolds: Well, in my book, I talk about people in the movement, who were around him…who would accept money to not boycott. If you support him, that’s seen as supporting Black America. But all the time, it’s not the same thing. 

Now, let me ask you one question here. Something has arisen about your character – is there any validity to the rumors that you used to have a relation with Jesse Jackson yourself, and you are just a little disgruntled?

Barbara Reynolds: I’m glad you talked about that…first of all, I’m an ordained minister, as Jesse is. When this happened, this was very painful to me, because people could not accept that here was a Black woman, who was a journalist – I worked at Ebony Magazine, I worked at The Chicago Tribune – that could not produce a biography that without there being sex in it. This was the rumor that Jackson’s people spread, after they could not threaten my life, and scare me out of town. So that was just one more thing, that I had to put up with, for writing a book, that actually was not all bad about Jackson. There are as many positive things in the book. But you don’t have to be mad at somebody; you don’t have to sleep with somebody, in order to write a good book. This is what writers do – you write books! 

Deacon, in West Atlanta, wants to speak to you….

Deacon: I just wanted to know, what professional background, does she have, does she use to the best of her ability? I know she has been part of the movement, and I understand there are people who get in serious problems when they speak up about minorities…and I just wanted to know a little bit about her background. 

Well, she already told you – basically, she worked at The Chicago Tribune, she’s worked at Ebony, she currently is a columnist at USA Today…

Barbara Reynolds: Well, I have a doctorate. That wouldn’t qualify me to write a book about Jesse, but the reason I could write a book about Jesse was because I covered him while I was at The Chicago Tribune. For about five years – I traveled the country with him, before I was even asked to write the book. In fact, Reverend Jackson said, at the time, “I talk to you more than any journalist in the country.” In fact, I took the contract, because I intended to write a favorable book about Jackson – because Jackson was one of my first heroes – but after doing the research…I had to write the truth. 

Deacon: Thank you, Ms. Reynolds…but you still didn’t answer my question, what school did you go to? 

Barbara Reynolds: I got my B.A. from Ohio State University, I’ve got my Masters from Howard University, and I got my Doctorate from United Theological Seminary in Dayton. 

Deacon: Oh, so you a minister? 

Barbara Reynolds: I sure am… 

We’ve already covered that ground. Deacon, do you have another question?

Deacon: I would like to thank you for taking my call, Mr. Redding, I always listen to you; and it’s been very nice talking to you. Good-bye. 

Barbara Reynolds: Thank you. 

I think he sounds a little upset…

Barbara Reynolds: I don’t know what he’s upset for… 

Me neither. We have more calls…Let’s get Eric up and aboard!

Eric: Thank you for taking my call, Rob. This is huge! Ms. Reynolds, I appreciate you getting on the air with us; I have two questions…have you heard of Sherman Skolnick, out of Chicago?

Barbara Reynolds: Yes. 

Eric: Okay, because I’ve read a lot of his stuff. Is he on the level with his stuff? 

Barbara Reynolds: Well…you have right now; he’s with a few people investigating the death of Ron Brown, and what really happened, you know. I’ve been following that… 

Eric: Right, right. Because he talks about Jesse Jackson’s involvement with the Blacks in Chicago – attempting to buy homes, where he worked with the power system to block Blacks from buying homes in Chicago. 

Barbara Reynolds: I was in Chicago, most of Jesse’s being in Chicago; and I’ve never heard that one. 

Eric: Okay, I have to get some information and send it to you. Because he allowed the Blackstone Rangers to be involved in his little…thug… 

Barbara Reynolds: You know, I was watching that; now I saw that happen, because his brother went to jail… 

Eric: Right! He allowed these thugs to attack Blacks who were attempting to get homes! But the other question I wanted to get to quickly – before I let you go, is I’d like for you to explain to Black folks, who feel that Jesse Jackson is a leader, has been put up there by the liberal elite; and can’t do anything wrong. You can have this information out there, as bright as day, and these folks still won’t believe that Jesse Jackson is a habitual liar, and all through his career…these are patterns of behavior that have gone on from day one, and up to now! I want to get off and let you address that, good-bye! 

All right, Eric. Thanks for your call!

Barbara Reynolds: The reason that Jesse is given a pass, is for several reasons – we have lost so many good leaders. I was there in Chicago, the first person to cover the death of Fred Hampton, and Mark Clark – two good men. Whitney Young was supposed to have drowned, when he was a great swimmer, in Africa…Ron Brown, Dr. King, Dr. King’s brother…so many good leaders, and good people have died, by the establishment coming against them, that people like to protect leaders who contribute something. And surely, Jesse Jackson contributed some good. When I look at his life, there’s very much good that he’s done in his life than he’s done wrong. And when I was coming along, there was this ethic, that Blacks should not tear down other Blacks, even if you told an unpleasant truth, there was always this underground movement saying you belonged to the C.I.A., or that you were being paid by somebody…this is what the caller was getting at when he asked about my credentials… 

There is still that same attitude in the African American community! I see it all the time, every single time I whisper Jesse Jackson’s name! Now the advertisement, Ms. Reynolds, of Kenneth Timmerman’s book, says his is the first to expose Jesse Jackson…

Barbara Reynolds: You see, it puts you in the position to say who was the first to expose [what]…that was not my purpose in writing the first book. I was writing a biography that told who Jesse Jackson is, the good and the bad. Mine was not to expose him as this negative person; there are certainly some negative points, but it was a big book. I think the motives are different. 

Right, right. We’ve got Joe Carter joining us, and he has a question.

Joe Carter: God blesses you, sister! I don’t know what to say about Rob Redding, he has taken the initiative to get you on the show! Last week, the topic came up, and I came in defense of you Ms. Reynolds; that I thought this person, this Timmerman, spoke with you and created a copycat, using your information – to create his opportunity… 

Barbara Reynolds: I’m going to have to get the book. Because first of all, the Ken Timmerman I know is a conservative, and he’s part of this conservative network, whose purpose is to destroy people who don’t agree with them. So, you know, we have two very different reasons for writing a book. That whatever reason he has, I’d hate to think that he’s taken the material I’ve research, and used it for an end I did not use it for… 

Joe Carter: Well, God gives affirmation – and the point that you cover today, gives affirmation to the fact that is probably what this person did. I worked at Push; I came in, and felt your presence when the book was written. After hearing you express yourself, my point is, you have done a great service to the community, by coming on to The Rob Redding Show, and letting people know that, the truth is the light. And you know, as a professional, you have a moral obligation to let the truth be told; and you did that, over 25 years ago. And you’re also, willing now, to defend your honor, and even his integrity, and what honor he has. And I really applaud you for that, and thank you for coming on to The Rob Redding Show. 

All right.

Barbara Reynolds: Well, thank you so much! I should also say where people can get the book, because it’s still in print. You can get it from www.reynoldsnews.com. It’s called Jesse Jackson: America’s David. People ask me why I named it America’s David – because David spoke the poetry of his environment; and David had many concubines, if you think about it… 

Yeah…yeah, he sure did…

Barbara Reynolds: In fact, I was surprised that the mistresses he had while he was running for the Presidency never came out… 

Wow…

Barbara Reynolds: In fact, The National Enquirer offered me six figures just to give them the name, because they knew I knew… 

They offered you six figures…and you turned them down?

Barbara Reynolds: Just to give them the name of the mistress he had while he was running for President. So they knew he mistresses, they just needed you to go on record…

Barbara Reynolds: Well, I didn’t give it to them. I’m not invested in his destruction. I wish he would quit destroying himself, because when all is said and done, the baby; the mistresses; the patronage system; all of that is something he can stop doing. 

Okay, Sam, from Southwest Atlanta, has a question for you…

Sam: Yes. I want to find out, is Timmerman’s book the number one seller right now? 

Timmerman’s book? It’s number one in retail sales, at Amazon.com. 

Sam: We need to let the public know he has so many lies in there, that would definitely hurt the book. 

Wait a minute, wait a minute…we’re not saying these are lies…because I haven’t seen the book, she hasn’t seen the book…what we’re saying at this point, is that this seems to be a complete rewrite of Ms. Reynolds’s book. 

Sam: I was only going by the things she just said. He did not interview her, and he says in the book, that she was in hiding…and she said that was not true. Let me clear up some things – he said this in a radio interview, she was hiding; and he said in a radio interview that he interviewed you.

Barbara Reynolds: Right. 

And you already told us he misrepresented himself, when he called you. He said he was writing an article, and not writing a book. I guess it matters whether or not this is copyright infringement. 

Barbara Reynolds: Yeah, it does. And I’m going to get off the phone when I’m through, and call The Washington Times, where I think he works. And try to get to the bottom of this. Because other people are calling me and telling me, this is what he is doing. I would be very upset, because I did all of this work; it took me two and a half years to do it, and take death threats at the time it was released…I had bodyguards, that the community gave me…I had to fight these people, I refused to leave town, until I got ready. Because as the Bible says, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” But there is still a motive there that bothers me. My motive was just to report, and put into context what was there… 

Right. And I want to get this straight. No one is saying that the stuff we’ve heard so far – out of the book – isn’t true, right? As far as you know…Barbara 

Reynolds: As far as I can see it…I don’t know what’s true or not… Well, I’ll tell you some of the things he said, and here are some of the highlights – you can confirm or deny what you know: He says he (Jackson) may or may not be a minister, because he did not finish seminary…Barbara 

Reynolds: Well, you don’t have to finish seminary in order to be a minister… 

Well, he says that he wasn’t ordained…

Barbara Reynolds: Well, I’m not sure…I thought Reverend Clay Evans ordained him… 

Okay now…the other truth or untruth is that he (Jackson) consorts with street thugs to deal with his opposition…

Barbara Reynolds: That maybe true…but at the time he’s talking about…the Black Keystone Nation, and the Panthers…he was dealing with both of them…these are still somebody’s brother, somebody’s son…they may have been street thugs, but that’s not all they were. 

And the last one, he says, is that Jackson extorts companies…for money by saying, “If you don’t change…we’re going to boycott.” But if they give him money, he goes away.

Barbara Reynolds: I’ve heard that. And a case might be made for that… And some portions of that were in your book, right?

Barbara Reynolds: Exactly. I did a whole thing on his relationship with companies. Even when he challenged Hollywood, and some of the movie producers…and then he appeared in a film…challenging the movie theaters. There’s plenty of evidence that, if you get on his good side…he’ll leave you alone. There’s plenty of evidence to support that.