Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson has weighed in on the controversial comments by Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson regarding gays and African Americans and compared the outspoken reality star to the bus driver who ordered iconic civil rights figure Rosa Parks to give up her seat to a white passenger.
"These statements uttered by Robertson are more offensive than the bus driver in Montgomery, Alabama, more than 59 years ago," Jackson said in a statement obtained by ABC News. "At least the bus driver, who ordered Rosa Parks to surrender her seat to a white person, was following state law. Robertson's statements were uttered freely and openly without cover of the law, within a context of what he seemed to believe was 'white privilege,'" the statement added.
The release, also requested a meeting with executives from A&E network, which airs the ratings-grabbing Duck Dynasty series, as well as representatives from the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain, which initially removed Duck Dynasty-related merchandise from its shelves in the wake of the controversy, but then apologized to customers for its decision and put the products back on shelves after a backlash from fans of the show.
A&E suspended the 67-year-old Robertson from filming new episodes of Duck Dynasty after his comments in an interview for GQ magazine in which he expressed his view that homosexuality "is not logical" and can lead to other "sinful" behaviors, and for stating that he'd never witnessed any mistreatment of African Americans while growing up in Louisiana.
"Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there," Robertson told GQ reporter Drew Magary. "Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men," he added.
Regarding the racial history of his native South, Robertson recalled, "Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I'm with the blacks, because we're white trash. They're singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person say, 'I tell you what: These doggone white people' -- not a word!... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues."
The controversy over his recent comments didn't appear to dampen the holiday mood inside the Robertson household as Phil apparently gifted his wife of 50 years with a "wedding ring" for Christmas. The ring is pictured in a Twitter post by Robertson's granddaughter, Sadie. "After 50 years of marriage Papaw Phil finally gave Mamaw Kay a wedding ring for Christmas," tweeted Sadie, the eldest daughter of Willie Robertson, Phil's son and the current CEO of the family's successful Duck Commander company.