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Wall St. and Business Wednesdays: New York Stock Exchange Confirms Donation to Rev. Jesse Jackson

An official with the New York Stock Exchange has confirmed that it will once again provide financial support for Jesse Jackson and his Wall Street Conference in January.

The news is consolation to Jackson, who will for the first time be unable to use the prestige of the NYSE floor to host his Wall Street Project gala fundraiser.

"We are a sponsor again," said NYSE spokesman Rich Adamonis in an interview with When asked how much the NYSE was contributing to Jackson's group, Adamonis declined to be specific.

"We don't disclose that amount, but it is similar to previous years," Adamonis said. The NYSE has previously donated about $100,000 per year to the Wall Street Project, according to Adamonis.

The Wall Street Project is designed to promote minority participation in corporate America. The annual conference has featured Jackson ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange and playing host to the fundraising reception.

Jackson has used the floor of the world's biggest stock exchange as the venue for his annual Wall Street Project invitation-only gala fundraiser since the project's inception in 1997. The Wall Street Project's 2004 conference is scheduled for Jan. 12-15 at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers.

A Wall Street insider, who did not want to be identified, told in October that the resignation of Richard Grasso as chairman of the New York Stock Exchange and the departure of several board members loyal to Jackson, including former Citigroup Chairman Sandy Weil and former New York Democratic gubernatorial candidate Carl McCall, were key factors in moving the venue for his event. also previously reported that discontent among some owners of NYSE seats and pressure from the conservative National Legal and Policy Center may have made it impossible for Jackson to continue using the stock exchange floor.

While the NYSE and Jackson's spokesman deny that the switch of venue for the gala fundraiser had anything to do with any controversy surrounding Jackson, the two sides offered differing reasons for the change.

In October, Adamonis said, "The Rainbow/PUSH has opted to seek a venue nearby, not on the floor this year." But a Rainbow/PUSH spokesman said earlier this month that it was the NYSE, not Rainbow/PUSH that requested the venue change.

"All there was, was a security issue and the stock exchange wanted to change the venue and that is all that is being done," said Charles Farrell, Rainbow/PUSH spokesman.

Farrell said any controversy surrounding the change in location was being "greatly exaggerated."

"The stock exchange will still be sponsoring our gala. It is still involved heavily with our Wall Street Project," Farrell said.

A new location for the gala event has not yet been finalized, according to Farrell.

Jackson remains a controversial figure in corporate America, on Wall Street and even on his home turf in Chicago. Protesters booed Jackson at a rally he was holding Tuesday in the city. A local television news crew reported that, "a group of people disenchanted with Jesse Jackson led a spirited protest that sometimes drowned out" Jackson's demands for more jobs for young black men.

The protests, complete with bullhorn amplified shouting and boos, came from a local Chicago group called VOTE which is made up of ex-convicts, church leaders and Muslims.

One protester shouted, "We are tired of coming here to voice our opinion when we got African-American people sitting at the table and saying they represent our interests and playing this puppet game," according to the ABC News affiliate.

Jackson dismissed the protests, comparing himself to other famous civil rights leaders. "They lashed out at Dr. King, they lashed out at Nelson Mandela, they lashed out at Jesus, so all of those who fight for change become the object of frustration," Jackson said.

Note: This article first appeared at the Cyber Newscast Service material, copyright 1998-2003 Cybercast News Service.

Wednesday, December 3, 2003

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