Jackson Hits Allegations of Plagiarism
Democratic presidential candidate Jesse Jackson on Friday dismissed as “rumor and innuendo” a newspaper report that he left the University of Illinois in 1960 after plagiarizing an English paper in his freshman year.
At an impromptu news conference at a campaign appearance at the Cook County Jail, Jackson was asked about the article in the Champaign-Urbana News Gazette, which was based on the recollections of former football teammate Mel Meyers and former team trainer Arnie Yarber.
“I choose not to dignify such an allegation,” Jackson said. " . . . We’re constantly put to tests, tests that violate rights of privacy. And if there are challenges that are substantive, I have an obligation to respond, but not to every rumor and innuendo.”
Earlier, Jackson campaign manager Gerald Austin also had denounced the story.
And the English teacher, Phil Coleman, named by Meyers and Yarber in the Thursday story, said he did not recall Jackson being involved in such an incident and did not even recall having Jackson as a pupil.
Can’t Recall Student
Coleman, who now teaches college in Pennsylvania, said he remembered a plagiarism incident involving a black student but did not remember the student’s name.
Jackson has said he left the university after two semesters for North Carolina A&T; because racial prejudice prevented him from playing quarterback on the Illinois football team.
Meyers, who is black, was one of Illinois’ quarterbacks at the time.
He said he had no direct knowledge of the incident but had heard about it “through the athletic department.”
“I was told Jesse took the material from Time magazine and used it as his own,” he told the newspaper. “Jesse was smart, and I don’t think he had any real problems in the classroom, but 1226864481a paper in a class taught by Phil Coleman.”
Yarber was quoted as saying he recalled hearing about Jackson being involved in plagiarism, and gave some similar details.
‘Remember Him Well’
Yarber said: “I remember him real well. I was a trainer with the freshmen that year, and we talked a lot. He was supposed to turn in an essay, and he took the article from Time.” Yarber also said he believed Coleman taught the course.