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June 18, 2012

Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition Call Adidas Shackle Shoe Human Degradation

In August 2012, Adidas is set to introduce shoes with bright orange shackles, designed to go around the ankles. Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition contend the slave chains on the shoe are an insult.

“The attempt to commercialize and make popular more than 200 years of human degradation, where blacks were considered three-fifths human by our Constitution is offensive, appalling and insensitive. Removing the chains from our ankles and placing them on our shoes is no progress.

For Adidas to promote the athleticism and contributions of a variety of African-American sports legends---especially Olympic heroes Wilma Rudolph and Jesse Owens and boxing great Muhammad Ali—and then allow such a degrading symbol of African-American history to pass through its corporate channels and move toward actual production and advertisement, is insensitive and corporately irresponsible.

These slave shoes are odious and we as a people should be called to resent and resist them. If put into production and placed on the market, protests and pickets signs will follow. Adidas cannot make a profit at the expense of commercialized human degradation.

I spend a good deal of time in America's public schools urging young men and women to pursue academic excellence. Students repeat the phrase--strong minds break strong chains. Even if no allusion to slavery is intended, chains conjure only negative images. The only things we chain in this society are slaves, prisoners and beasts. This is exactly the kind of mindless commercialism our children need less of - especially in young urban America where 55 percent unemployment, 50 percent graduation rates, drugs and violence have them chained to uncertain futures already. We urge the NBA, NCAA, state high school athletic associations, Parent Teachers Associations, coaches associations, players associations and the U.S. Olympic Committee to reject these shoes. African-Americans have made too much progress since slavery to allow any company to profit by selling images reminiscent of our enslaved past.”

The Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a progressive organization devoted to protecting, defending and expanding civil rights to improve economic and educational opportunity. The organization is headquartered at 930 E. 50th St. in Chicago. To learn more, please visit or call (773) 373-3366. To arrange an interview with Rev. Jackson, please call the numbers listed above.