JESSE JACKSON, SR. Biography - Polititians


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Name: Jesse Louis Jackson                                                                     
Born: 8 October 1941 Greenville, South Carolina                                               
Jesse Louis Jackson (Senior) (born October 8, 1941) is an American civil rights               
activist and Baptist minister. He was a candidate for the Democratic                           
presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served as "shadow senator" for the               
District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997. He was the founder of both entities that               
merged to form Rainbow/PUSH. Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. is his eldest son.             
Jackson was born Jesse Louis Burns in Greenville, South Carolina, to Helen Burns.             
Helen Burns was a 16-year old single mother when he was born. His biological                   
father, Noah Louis Robinson, a former professional boxer and a prominent figure               
in the black community, was married to another woman when Jesse was born. He was               
not involved in his son's life. In 1943, two years after Jesse's birth, his                   
mother married Charles Henry Jackson who would adopt Jesse 14 years later. Jesse               
went on to take the surname of his stepfather.                                                 
Jackson attended Sterling High School, a segregated high school in Greenville,                 
where he was an outstanding student-athlete. Upon graduating in 1959, he                       
rejected a contract from a professional baseball team so that he could attend                 
the racially integrated University of Illinois on a football scholarship.                     
However, one year later, Jackson transferred to North Carolina A&T located in                 
Greensboro, North Carolina. There are differing accounts for the reasons behind               
this transfer. Jackson claims that the change was based on the school's racial                 
biases which included his being unable to play as a quarterback despite being a               
star quarterback at his high school as well as being demoted by his speech                     
professor as an alternate in a public speaking competition team despite the                   
support of his teammates who elected him a place on the team for his superior                 
abilities. reports a different story, however. Claims of racial                       
discrimination on the football team may be exaggerated because Illinois's                     
starting quarterback that year was an African American. In addition, Jackson                   
left Illinois at the end of his second semester after being placed on academic                 
probation. Following his graduation from A&T, Jackson attended the Chicago                     
Theological Seminary with the intent of becoming a minister, but dropped out in               
1966 to focus full-time on the civil rights movement. (He would be ordained                   
in 1968, without a theological degree, and was awarded an honorary theological                 
doctorate from Chicago in 1990.)                                                               
Jackson is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.                                         
In 1965, he participated in the Selma to Montgomery marches organized by Dr.                   
Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders in Alabama. When Jackson               
returned from Selma, he threw himself into King’s effort to establish a                     
beachhead of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in Chicago. In               
1966, King selected Jackson to be head of the SCLC’s Operation Breadbasket in               
Chicago, and promoted him to be the national director in 1967. Following the                   
example of Reverend Leon Sullivan of Philadelphia, a key goal of the new group                 
was to foster “selective buying” (boycotts) as a means to pressure white                   
businesses to hire blacks and purchase goods and services from black contractors.             
One of Sullivan's precursors was Dr. T.R.M. Howard, a wealthy South Side doctor               
and entrepreneur and key financial contributor to Operation Breadbasket. Before               
he moved to Chicago from Mississippi in 1956, Howard, as the head of the                       
Regional Council of Negro Leadership, had successfully organized a boycott                     
against service stations that refused to provide restrooms for blacks                         
The Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks on a radio broadcast from the headquarters of                   
Operation PUSH, (People United to Save Humanity) at its annual convention. July,               
1973. Photograph by John H. White.                                                             
Jackson was with King in Memphis, Tennessee when King was assassinated on April               
4, 1968, the day after King's famous "I’ve been to the mountaintop" speech at               
the Mason Temple.                                                                             
Beginning in 1968, Jackson increasingly clashed with Ralph Abernathy, King's                   
successor as head of the national SCLC. In December, 1971, they had a complete                 
falling out. Abernathy suspended Jackson for “administrative improprieties and               
repeated acts of violation of organizational policy.” Jackson resigned, called               
together his allies, and Operation PUSH was born during the same month. The new               
group was organized in the home of Dr. T.R.M. Howard who also became a member of               
the board of directors and chair of the finance committee.                                     
In 1984, Jackson organized the Rainbow Coalition, which later merged, in 1996,                 
with Operation PUSH. The newly formed Rainbow PUSH organization brought the                   
reverend's role as an important and effective organizer to the mainstream. Al                 
Sharpton also left the SCLC in protest to follow Jackson and formed the National               
Youth Movement.                                                                               
Jackson surrounded by marchers carrying signs advocating support for the Hawkins-Humphrey     
Bill for full employment, January 1975.                                                       
During the 1980s, he achieved wide fame as an African American leader and as a                 
politician, as well as becoming a well-known spokesman for civil rights issues.               
His influence extended to international matters in the 1980s and 1990s.                       
In 1983, Jackson traveled to Syria to secure the release of a captured American               
pilot, Navy Lt. Robert Goodman who was being held by the Syrian government.                   
Goodman had been shot down over Lebanon while on a mission to bomb Syrian                     
positions in that country. After a dramatic personal appeal that Jackson made to               
Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, Goodman was released. Initially, the Reagan                   
administration was skeptical about Jackson's trip to Syria. However, after                     
Jackson secured Goodman's release, United States President Ronald Reagan                       
welcomed both Jackson and Goodman to the White House on January 4, 1984. This                 
helped to boost Jackson's popularity as an American patriot and served as a                   
springboard for his 1984 presidential run. In June 1984, Jackson negotiated the               
release of twenty-two Americans being held in Cuba after an invitation by Cuban               
president Fidel Castro.                                                                       
He caused a stir in 1995 when he wrote to the FOX network protesting an episode               
of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in which the "White Ranger" said "White Power"                 
as a battle-cry. Jackson later retracted his statement, but FOX nonetheless                   
censored the line in future airings.                                                           
He traveled to Kenya in 1997 to meet with Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi as                 
United States President Bill Clinton's special envoy for democracy to promote                 
free and fair elections. In April 1999, during the Kosovo War, Jackson traveled               
to Belgrade to negotiate the release of three U.S. POWs captured on the                       
Macedonia border while patrolling with a UN peacekeeping unit. He met with the                 
then-Yugoslav president Slobodan Milošević, who later agreed to release the                 
three men.                                                                                     
His international efforts continued into the 2000s. On February 15, 2003,                     
Jackson spoke in front of over an estimated one million people in Hyde Park,                   
London at the culmination of the anti-war demonstration against the imminent                   
invasion of Iraq by the U.S. and the United Kingdom. In November 2004, Jackson                 
visited senior politicians and community activists in Northern Ireland in an                   
effort to encourage better cross-community relations and rebuild the peace                     
process and restore the governmental institutions of the Belfast Agreement. In                 
August 2005, Jackson traveled to Venezuela to meet Venezuelan President Hugo                   
Chávez, following controversial remarks by televangelist Pat Robertson in which               
he implied that Chávez should be assassinated. Jackson condemned Robertson's                 
remarks as immoral. After meeting with Chávez and addressing the Venezuelan                   
Parliament, Jackson said that there was no evidence that Venezuela posed a                     
threat to the U.S. Jackson also met representatives from the Afro Venezuela and               
indigenous communities.                                                                       
According to an AP-AOL "Black Voices" poll in Feb 2006, Jackson was voted "the                 
most important black leader" with 15% of the vote. He was followed by                         
Condoleezza Rice with 11%.