Jackson's Name Game

Would mother really be proud?

By Steve Rhodes
|  Thursday, Sep 24, 2009  |  Updated 4:17 PM CDT
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Jackson's Name Game

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Gov. Rod Blagojevich's former spokeswoman, Cheryle Jackson (D) announced her candidacy for Illinois Senate position on Sept. 16.

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When former Rod Blagojevich spokesperson Cheryle Jackson left that job to become the first woman to lead the Chicago Urban League in its history in 2006, it was the kind of moment that would make a mother proud.

But it was only when Jackson announced her entry into the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat currently being held hostage by Roland Burris that she used her mother's pride as an excuse to rename herself Cheryle Robinson Jackson.

As Laura Washington points out, this accomplishes two things.

First, it links Jackson to the now-famous Michelle Robinson and her extended network of friends and family. That would be Michelle Robinson Obama. And if voters think she's related, so be it.

Second, it puts some distance between her and the Jackson Jacksons - those of the Jesse Jackson variety. Running statewide makes one think twice about that kind of association.

But the name change accomplishes something else Jackson never intended: it reveals to voters yet another candidate who will do anything to win - even if that means changing their very name.

Cynical?

Consider:

"A spokesman said there is no significant purpose for the addition," the Bloomington Pantagraph reports. "'There's no reason or why,' spokesman Bob Kettlewell said.

And he would know.

And yet, nearly a month after the campaign began using the new name in press releases with no explanation, Jackson told Washington that she was motivated by the desire to make her mother proud and honor her late father.

Right.

In an interview with Essence posted on September 1st, the magazine said that "She has earned a name for herself within the Black community in Chicago."

The name they used was Cheryle Jackson.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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