November 19 [14:00 EDT] -- If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Then beat 'em. That appears to be the philosophy of political activist Jesse Jackson. Jackson's Rainbow Coalition has bought stock in five of the six major record conglomerates -- Polygram, Seagrams (Universal), Sony, Time-Warner and EMI (the sixth, BMG, isn't publicly traded) -- the first volley in what it says is a campaign against racism and sexism in the music industry.
The move comes on the heels of a statement made by a Polygram executive during a deposition in a Dru Hill contract dispute that inferred most blacks had criminal records. The incident prompted Jackson to meet with the company officials and following the meeting, the offender was demoted and a black executive promoted into the vacated international board position.
"Corporations take the art we create and the revenues we generate but deny us access to decision-making positions of power in the industry," Jackson told the L.A. Times. "We plan
to use consumer and shareholder leverage to pressure the global conglomerates.
We intend to judge and rate each company based upon its performance in hiring and promoting women and people of color," said Jackson, adding that their goal is to "bust down the doors" that block the ascension of women and visible minorities.
The stock purchases, although minor at roughly $1,000 per company, gives Jackson and cohorts access to company information and allows them to attend shareholders meetings where they can express their concerns.