LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Standing before a packed church in West Louisville’s California neighborhood, Rev. Jesse Jackson encouraged everyone in the room to exercise their right to vote.

“The right to vote is the crown jewel,” said Jackson. “There’s nothing more fundamental.”

Simmons College of Kentucky invited the prominent civil rights, religious, and political leader to speak Wednesday afternoon at St. Stephen Church Worship Center.

The event was part of the school’s ongoing West Louisville Forum series exploring solutions for issues facing West Louisville and other urban areas across America. Heading into the upcoming presidential election Jackson was asked to speak on the topic: “What do we have to lose?”

Jackson, who been outspoken about his support for Hillary Clinton, encouraged the audience to vote for someone who will protect affordable health care, raise working wages, appoint a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, and promote racially and gender equality.

Jackson also denounced calls for more urban policing, suggesting that development should be a key part of fighting poverty and violence in communities across America.

“You can’t police poverty; you can’t police despair. We need development, not just to be policed. We need urban reconstruction – not just to watch more decimation,” said Jackson. “In many of these cities, you have a low-level drug war. Drugs in, guns in, jobs out – that’s a toxic formula for survival.”