The Root writer and producer Danielle Young has come forward with sexual harassment allegations against the Rev. Jesse Jackson that she says occurred at a prior employer, a “popular” media company.
In an article titled “Don’t Let the Smile Fool You. I’m Cringing on the Inside,” Young says a meeting at the previous employer’s company on an unspecified date ended with a “keynote speech” by Jackson. After his speech, which she says was about the responsibility of black journalists, she joined her colleagues in line for a photo with Jackson.
“One by one, we stepped up, shared a few words and thank-yous with Jackson, snapped photos and went back to our desks,” she writes. “Simple enough, right?”
But Young alleges that when she went for a photo with Jackson, it wasn’t simple.
She says he gave her a look up and down and “reached out a hand and grabbed my thigh, saying, ‘I like all of that right there!’ and gave my thigh a tight squeeze.”
Young says the encounter was “something that was so casual, I almost didn’t even consider it sexual harassment, even though it was beyond my desire.” She includes a number of photographs of the encounter in her story that she says show how “visibly uncomfortable” she was.
When contacted for the story, Young says a former coworker noticed that Jackson had been “inappropriate with all the women.”
“And I also remember you telling me that he did something more with you,” the coworker reportedly continued. “And then we brushed the [expletive] off and chalked it up to him just being a dirty old man.”
Young says she is coming forward about the alleged thigh grab — something she admits was “barely a blip on anyone’s radar, even my own” — in the interest of speaking out “against men who simply can’t keep their hands to themselves. Because that’s where it starts.”
“My silence gave Jackson permission to continue grabbing at the next pair of thick thighs he liked,” Young says. “I’m hoping that my voice does the opposite.”
She is the second person to come forward with sexual harassment allegations against Jackson. In 2011, Tommy R. Bennett, a former employee of Jackson, filed a formal complaint with the city of Chicago Commission on Human Relations against Jackson and his Rainbow PUSH Coalition organization in Chicago.
Bennett, a gay man, alleged sexual harassment and discrimination because of his sexuality.