Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund kicked off their 22nd Annual Wall Street Project Economic Summit at the Sheraton New York Times Square. The civil rights icon and two-time presidential candidate addressed this year’s theme “400 Years Later: Closing the Wealth Gap, Expanding Opportunity” for African-Americans and other people of color in the United States.

Jackson presented the Wall Street Project Economic Summit White Paper, an overview of the struggle of the African-American community to increase wealth and gain financial equality by using votes and dollars, becoming shareholders and making a commitment to spending less than we make.

“African-Americans have journeyed through four stages of a 400-year struggle,” Jackson said. “Stage one – ending slavery after 246 years in bondage; Stage two: Ending the Jim Crow era with its mass lynchings and terror campaigns; Stage three: Securing the right to vote; and currently, Stage four: Securing access to capital, industry, technology and deal flow in the U.S. Economy.

“We are in the early days of stage four,” he continued. “We have freedom in our lives, but we don’t have equality. There are some steps the African-American community can take to move closer to gaining equality and the fruits that will come with the successful navigation of stage four of the struggle. It’s the simplest way to begin building wealth. We must save money to invest in building a future. It’s time to consolidate that earning power for the welfare of the community.”