STILLWATER — The Reverend Jesse Jackson came to Stillwater on Thursday asking only one thing: a fair playing field for an athlete.
Jackson, 70, spoke at Mt. Zion Baptist church at a rally for convicted Oklahoma State basketball player Darrell Williams.
Williams was found guilty July 23 on two counts of rape by instrumentation and one count of sexual battery, stemming from an incident at a party in December 2010.
Sentencing for Williams, which will be determined by a judge, is set for Friday at the Payne County Court House.
Jackson visited Williams in jail on Thursday and reaffirmed the crowd that Williams has not given up hope yet.
“We visited Darrell this afternoon and had prayer with him,” Jackson said. “His spirits are strong, his faith is strong. He declares his innocence and believes God will guide him through.”
Jackson urged the crowd of more than 200 to show up peacefully to the court house on Friday. He wants them to stand behind Williams and show their support.
Jackson said he took up the case in defense of Williams because he knew his family and the upbringing Williams had in a rough Chicago neighborhood.
“We watched him growing up as a young high school student in Chicago, and we watched as his brother got shot down in cold blood,” Jackson said. “We watched as he made a break for Stillwater to come to school and obtain a high grade-point average, and he has been a source of joy for many. He's a responsible student and a responsible father and he has a certain appreciation for what he means and what he can mean.”