Britain’s black communities have still to throw off the mentality of slavery and need to invest in the future of their young people and build their confidence, leading US civil rights campaigner the Rev Jesse Jackson told reporters ahead of a public lecture at Regent's Park College in Oxford to mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.
Mr Jackson was speaking at a media conference in London on Monday 12 November. He also said that the churches had offered justifications for enslavement in the past, and should be at the forefront of resisting prejudice now, in line with the Gospel message.
The civil rights campaigner denounced the Iraq war and the growing divide between rich and poor in the world today.
Mr Jackson is in Britain for a four-day visit at the invitation of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI), the official ecumenical body, and Regent's Park College.
"We have globalised capital but not human rights, and we are more technically savvy than ever before," he told Ecumenical News International.
"But we are, at the same time, at greater risk resulting from the disparity between those living in a surplus culture and those living in a deficit culture, who do not have enough resources to barely survive."
During his 11-14 November 2007 visit to Britain, Jackson is to deliver a public lecture at Regent's Park to mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition by Britain of its transatlantic slave trade.
Referring to calls for Britain to apologise for its involvement in slavery, Jackson said that an apology alone would be empty unless it was accompanied by some form of positive action to address the outcome of the slave trade.
ASPIRE, the black youth network Jackson is backing, will carry out research into the reasons behind the under-representation of black young people in higher education in Britain, and investigate and promote ways to improve their access to universities.
Mr Andy Bruce, leader of CTBI's racial justice team, commented: "The insights and perspective Jesse Jackson will bring to Britain and Ireland from his 40 years of social justice work in the US will surely inspire and empower those who continue the struggle on this side of the Atlantic."