Biography of The Reverend Jesse Jackson

Civil rights activist, Baptist minister, and presidential candidate, born October 8, 1941, in Greenville, South Carolina, USA.

Son of an Alabama sharecropper (he adopted his stepfather's last name), Jesse Jackson was a good enough athlete in high school to be offered a contract by the Chicago White Sox, but he turned it down because a white player was given so much more money.

He also turned down an athletic scholarship at the University of Illinois when he was told that as a black he could not expect to play quarterback. Instead he attended the mostly black Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina in Greensboro, and in addition to being an outstanding athlete, student, and campus leader, he took a lead in protests that forced Greensboro, NC, to integrate its restaurants and theatres.

Jesse Jackson trained for the ministry at Chicago Theological Seminary and, having joined the protest movement led by Martin Luther King Jr and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), he was named head of the Chicago branch of Operation Breadbasket (1965), becoming its national head in 1967. Operation Breadbasket was the SCLC's programme to persuade American businesses to hire blacks and to get companies to sell products made by blacks, and Jackson proved highly successful in this for several years.

He also helped create the Chicago Freedom Movement (1966) to press for integrated schools and open housing. He was beside King when he was assassinated (1968) and although Jackson was viewed by some as the potential successor to King as the leader in the struggle for rights, he never quite gained the full support of all elements of the black community.

Ordained a Baptist minister in 1968, he concentrated his fight for rights in Chicago, and after a falling-out with the SCLC removed him from Operation Breadbasket (1971), he founded his own organization, PUSH (People United to Save Humanity), which would continue to work for improving African-Americans' lives in a variety of fronts.

Increasingly more active on the political scene, in 1972 he led a group that successfully challenged Mayor Richard J Daley's slate of delegates at the Democratic national convention. Backed by yet another of his organizations, the Rainbow Coalition, he ran twice in the Democratic presidential primaries (1984, 1988), gaining enough votes to make him a presence at the convention.

And although his occasionally extreme rhetoric and sometimes angry demeanor seemed to frighten off the broadbased support he sought, he constantly won favor with surprising constituencies as he inserted himself into a variety of events, including rushing off to Syria to gain the freedom of an American pilot, and joining picket lines at all kinds of labor actions.

In January 2001, Jackson decided to withdraw temporarily from public life following revelations of an extra-marital affair with a staffer that resulted in the birth of a daughter. He reemerged on the political scene in 2004 following the voting debacle that plagued the presidential election. He called for a congressional debate on the matter, asking for a fair count and national voting standards.

In 2008, Jackson came under fire again after using a racial slur in reference to President-elect Barack Obama. Jackson, unaware that he was on a microphone, made several negative comments about then Senator Obama. He later apologized for the comment.


SRC 08/09 were invited to attend the Public Lecture by The Reverend Jesse Jackson last 21st June 2009. And Alhamdulillah we thank God we attended the lecture. Reverend Jesse Jackson which his biography is written above is the founder of the Rainbow/PUSH (People United to Save Humanity) Coalition.

Islam has always been a religion of peace and all Muslims know it will always remain that way. What made this lecture worth listening is, we are listening to the concept of peace that Islam has always propagated from the speech of a Reverend. Though this statement might sound sarcastic, the truth is, all religion has always propagated peace though some might have been potrayed in a different way. IIUM, which its birth was originated from the hope of the Ummah, having The Reverend Jesse Jackson giving a lecture on peace here in this campus will definitely be one step ahead towards the realisation of the Ummah's dream, which is peace.

There are many interesting things that he has brought up during his lecture and of course he was 'bombarded' with many questions during the Question and Answer Session. Sadly, not all of the questions can be entertained because of the time constraint.

These are the quote of his lecture that we thought, worth pondering.

  • In the name of peace, of MANY we are ONE
  • We love God, but in the name of God, we kill each other
  • In the name of peace, we should learn to live together (accepts others' differences)
  • Let us not fear of the unknown
  • Let us tear down wall and build bridges
Each of us will interpret things differently and it is of our own justification. But, something is worth pondering and let us think how similar each of us despite of our differences.

"In peace, hope is a weapon, cynicism is slow suicidal"


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