09 26 2016
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LONDON – Rev. Jesse Jackson took the tall, dark haired stranger by the arm and went looking for a quiet place to talk.
It would not be easy. Another man was chasing after Jackson, begging for his autograph.
"Later, buddy, later," Jackson said.
He led the self-effacing stranger through the crowd gathered at a posh London hotel where the Baptist preacher from Chicago was being celebrated the other night for his long career fighting for human rights by, among other people, Britain's Deputy Prime Minister, Harriet Harman.
"Jesse," Harman said, "you are the chain linking Martin Luther King to Barack Obama."
Jackson was moved by the gala, but was overwhelmed by emotion when he saw the stranger.
"Man, I can't believe it's you," Jackson told him. "I've been waiting a long time for this. I kind of talk a lot, but now I don't know what to say."
For Jackson seeing the young man he had met only once nearly 19 years ago was more important than a thousand fancy dinners in his honor.
"He's why I do what I do," Jackson said.
The stranger's name was Stuart Lockwood, a 23-year-old, first-year physical education teacher in a small town about 120 miles north of London.
But in the late summer of 1990, when he was just 5 years old, a photograph of little Stuart ignited the world's outrage on the eve of the first Gulf War.
The boy, his family and scores of other British, American, French and Canadian citizens were taken hostage by Saddam Hussein's soldiers during Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August of 1990.
The Westerners were mostly employed in the Kuwaiti oil industry. Hussein threatened to use the boy and his other "guests" – as the strongman called the hostages – as "human shields" strategically placed around the city of Baghdad, as an international coalition led by the United States formed to push the Iraqi dictator out of the oil-rich nation.
Hussein spotted the little boy when he visited the hostages. Lockwood was the child who looked terrified as Hussein ruffled his hair and asked him if he was getting enough milk.
Jackson headed for Baghdad to ask Hussein to set the captives free. No one thought Jackson could do it. But a few days later, he got off a plane in London, carrying the boy in his arms with dozens of other just released hostages following behind.
Instead of applauding his triumph in the desert, the British press blasted Jackson as a grandstander, who had been used by Hussein for propaganda purposes.
Jackson said the criticism hurt but he would do it all over again.
"Perhaps Hussein used me, but I used him, too," Jackson said. "I thought it was a good trade. I got those people out."
For the next 19 years, Jackson often wondered whatever became of the boy. He seemed so fragile, so scared, so small.
Did the ordeal scar him, cause him nightmares? Did he go to college? Get married? Was he happy?
Jackson had no idea. Indeed, over the years, Jackson has negotiated the release of more than 200 Americans and other Westerners held captive in foreign lands, from Cuba to Syria, from Africa to Europe. Except for one of the three American soldiers he got out of Bosnia, Jackson has never had a reunion with any of the strangers he worked so hard to free.
From time to time on subsequent trips to London, Jackson had tried to find the little British boy, but never had any luck. The boy had slipped into normalcy. He didn't like talking about his desert captivity. He grew up to stand 6 feet 4, an inch taller than Jackson, and became a teacher and a semi-professional cricket player with a beautiful blonde haired girlfriend.
Then Jackson's friend, Keith Vaz, a 22-year Member of Parliament, invited Jackson to London to receive the Global Diversity Award last week from The Next Step Foundation, a group that promotes diversity in the United Kingdom.
It was a busy week for Jackson. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown presented Jackson with the diversity award, a crystal vase, at

10 Downing Street

. Jackson also met with Britain's Foreign Sectary, David Milliband, spoke to trade unionists, high school students and a church packed with 1,000 people thundering, "I am Somebody."
Bus drivers honked their horns and waved as he walked through the streets. American tourists from Wisconsin and California snapped pictures. A 91-year-old black man from South African simply wanted to shake his hand.
Then one night Vaz said, "Jesse, I have a surprise for you. We have found the little boy and he's coming to the dinner Thursday night."
Jackson was silent.
"Jesse, did you hear what I said?" Vaz asked.
"I heard you," Jackson said. "I'm just trying to process it."
At the end of the gala, immediately after Jackson had finished his remarks, Stuart Lockwood walked onto the stage, a terrified little boy no more.
They hugged and Jackson fought back tears.
"It's a great honor to be here with Rev. Jesse Jackson," Lockwood said. "He is the man that carried me off the plane at Heathrow Airport."
Lockwood has a photograph of that day 19 years ago.
"I'm sorry, it's not framed," he said, throwing his arm around Jackson.
Jackson beamed and slapped Lockwood's thigh.
He said, "This is a beautiful night."
. Jackson also met with Britain's Foreign Sectary, David Milliband, spoke to trade unionists, high school students and a church packed with 1,000 people thundering, "I am Somebody."Bus drivers honked their horns and waved as he walked through the streets. American tourists from Wisconsin and California snapped pictures. A 91-year-old black man from South African simply wanted to shake his hand.Then one night Vaz said, "Jesse, I have a surprise for you. We have found the little boy and he's coming to the dinner Thursday night."Jackson was silent."Jesse, did you hear what I said?" Vaz asked."I heard you," Jackson said. "I'm just trying to process it."At the end of the gala, immediately after Jackson had finished his remarks, Stuart Lockwood walked onto the stage, a terrified little boy no more.They hugged and Jackson fought back tears."It's a great honor to be here with Rev. Jesse Jackson," Lockwood said. "He is the man that carried me off the plane at Heathrow Airport."Lockwood has a photograph of that day 19 years ago."I'm sorry, it's not framed," he said, throwing his arm around Jackson.Jackson beamed and slapped Lockwood's thigh.He said, "This is a beautiful night."

 

. Jackson also met with Britain's Foreign Sectary, David Milliband, spoke to trade unionists, high school students and a church packed with 1,000 people thundering, "I am Somebody."Bus drivers honked their horns and waved as he walked through the streets. American tourists from Wisconsin and California snapped pictures. A 91-year-old black man from South African simply wanted to shake his hand.Then one night Vaz said, "Jesse, I have a surprise for you. We have found the little boy and he's coming to the dinner Thursday night."Jackson was silent."Jesse, did you hear what I said?" Vaz asked."I heard you," Jackson said. "I'm just trying to process it."At the end of the gala, immediately after Jackson had finished his remarks, Stuart Lockwood walked onto the stage, a terrified little boy no more.They hugged and Jackson fought back tears."It's a great honor to be here with Rev. Jesse Jackson," Lockwood said. "He is the man that carried me off the plane at Heathrow Airport."Lockwood has a photograph of that day 19 years ago."I'm sorry, it's not framed," he said, throwing his arm around Jackson.Jackson beamed and slapped Lockwood's thigh.He said, "This is a beautiful night."

 

. Jackson also met with Britain's Foreign Sectary, David Milliband, spoke to trade unionists, high school students and a church packed with 1,000 people thundering, "I am Somebody."Bus drivers honked their horns and waved as he walked through the streets. American tourists from Wisconsin and California snapped pictures. A 91-year-old black man from South African simply wanted to shake his hand.Then one night Vaz said, "Jesse, I have a surprise for you. We have found the little boy and he's coming to the dinner Thursday night."Jackson was silent."Jesse, did you hear what I said?" Vaz asked."I heard you," Jackson said. "I'm just trying to process it."At the end of the gala, immediately after Jackson had finished his remarks, Stuart Lockwood walked onto the stage, a terrified little boy no more.They hugged and Jackson fought back tears."It's a great honor to be here with Rev. Jesse Jackson," Lockwood said. "He is the man that carried me off the plane at Heathrow Airport."Lockwood has a photograph of that day 19 years ago."I'm sorry, it's not framed," he said, throwing his arm around Jackson.Jackson beamed and slapped Lockwood's thigh.He said, "This is a beautiful night."

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