The Rev. Jesse Jackson urged an audience of about 1,200 at Cal State Fullerton Tuesday night to participate in the 1996 state and general elections.
"We've marched too much, bled too profusely, died too young to have and not use our power to vote," Jackson said.
Jackson came to Orange County on a national speaking tour sponsored by the Rainbow Coalition.
Beginning an early attack on likely campaign issues, he took issue with California's "three-strikes" law and with attacks on affirmative action. Referring to GOP presidential candidate Patrick J. Buchanan's anti-immigration proposals, Jackson said, "Whither shall we go? Shall we build more walls that divide or shall we build bridges?"
Inspiring young voters to take action, he later shouted, "When young America comes alive, and chooses hope over dope, you have the power to transform this culture. . . . The burden of change comes from those who need and those who desire it."
Jackson's speech precedes a student march planned for next month here against the proposed "California civil rights initiative," which would ban most government-sponsored affirmative action programs in the state.
Cal State Fullerton President Milton A. Gordon has been an outspoken critic of that initiative and of recent considerations made by California State University officials to reduce affirmative action efforts in hiring, business contracts and programs for minority students.
The university's student body is 53% white, 24% Asian, 19% Latino and 3% African American.