A Biography of Jesse Jackson
Who is the man behind the podium?
Welcome to our biography section on Jesse Jackson. Here we collaborated an exhaustive list of articles on the reverend himself. Have you ever wondered just how Jesse Jackson came to be the powerful civil rights advocate he is today? Explore his past, present and dare I say future in this section of our website. We delve into the most intimate details of his family life from early childhood up into his religious revival with the church. We hope you find what you are looking for on our site. We strive to be as historically accurate as we possibly can when it comes to involving matters surrounding Jesse Jackson.
Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr. was born Jesse Louis Burns on October 8, 1941 to sixteen-year-old single mother, Helen Burns, in Greenville, South Carolina. Jesse Jackson’s biological father is Noah Louis Robinson, a prominent figure in the community and former professional boxer. Noah Robinson is married to another woman when Jesse Jackson was conceived and was never involved in Jesse’s live until his death. Jesse Jackson took his stepfather’s last name when he was adopted fourteen years after Helen Burns, his mother, married Charles Henry Jackson.
Jesse Jackson married Jacqueline Lavinia Brown on December 31, 1962 and had five children together. Among them is Jesse Jackson Jr., the incumbent U.S. representative of the 2nd congressional district of Illinois.
A student-athlete, Jesse Jackson attended Sterling High School in Greenville and went on to attend University of Illinois, a racially integrated, on a football scholarship in lieu of a professional baseball team contract right after graduation. Jesse Jackson transferred to North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, North Carolina a year later.
After graduating from North Carolina A&T, Jesse Jackson decided to become a minister and attended the Chicago Theological Seminary. However, he dropped out to focus on the civil rights movement. Even without a theological degree, Jesse Jackson was ordained in 1968 and was granted an honorary doctorate from Chicago in 1990. Jesse Jackson earned his Master of Divinity Degree in 2000 due to his previous credits and work and life experiences.
Jesse Jackson rose to prominence as a civil rights activist by commanding public attention when he started working for Martin Luther King Jr. as a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, most especially Operation Breadbasket in 1966. Jesse Jackson’s disagreements with fellow member, Reverend Ralph Abernathy, prompted him to leave Operation Breadbasket and founded Operation PUSH. The new non-profit organization was created in Dr. T.R.M. Howard’s home.
The 80s signaled Jesse Jackson’s wide popularity as a politician and an African-American leader. Jesse Jackson became a regular in giving speeches for civil rights issues and became very influential throughout the decade and into the 90s. Jesse Jackson became well-known internationally, travelling into other countries as a representative of the U.S. government. Jesse Jackson was sent to Syria to help release Navy pilot Lt. Robert Goodman, who was shot down in Lebanon and was being held by the Syrian government. When they returned to the states, both were welcomed back by then President Ronal Reagan. Jesse Jackson’s popularity rose, gaining the support of his fellow democrats and prompting him to run for president. However, Jesse Jackson’s efforts didn’t gain him the necessary votes to win.
During the 1988 nationwide presidential elections, Jesse Jackson once again represented the democrats in the race, but consequently lost to fellow democrat Michael Dukakis. It was noticed, however, that Jesse Jackson’s somewhat liberal platform garnered him more support from voters compared to the 1984 elections.
In 1984, at the wake of his presidential candidacy, Jesse Jackson founded the Rainbow Coalition, which later on became the National Rainbow Coalition, where his eldest son Jesse Jackson Jr. once served as national director. In 1996, Operation PUSH and Rainbow Coalition merged as Rainbow PUSH, catapulting Jesse Jackson as a successful organizer. In a move to help fellow African-Americans, Jesse Jackson supported the college education of a black woman who accused three white lacrosse team members for raping her in March 2006. Jesse Jackson went on to guarantee that regardless of the outcome of the case, Rainbow PUSH will pay for the woman’s tuition fees.
In that same year, Jesse Jackson secured the freedom of twenty-two Americans in Cuba when he went there by invitation of Cuban president Fidel Castro. Before the 1991 Persian Gulf War erupted, Jesse Jackson went to Iraq and pleased for Saddam Hussein to release the foreign nationals he held as hostage. Jesse Jackson subsequently secured the liberation of twenty Americans and several British nationals.
Jesse Jackson was made a Master Mason on Sight by Grand Master Senter of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Illinois on May 25, 1987. This consequently made Jesse Jackson a Prince Hall Freemason.
Jesse Jackson became a special envoy for democracy in 1997 when Bill Clinton sent him to Kenya to meet Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi and promote free and fair elections. Jesse Jackson went to Kosovo in 1999 during the Kosovo War to help release three American POWs who were with a UN peacekeeping unit in Macedonia. Jesse Jackson was successful after meeting and gaining Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević’s agreement.
Jesse Jackson’s international campaign for peace and civil rights went on through the 2000s. Jesse Jackson became a regular speaker in anti-war demonstrations in the UK, Northern Ireland and Venezuela. In 2005, Jesse Jackson was enlisted to be part of UK’s Operation Black Vote campaign to encourage ethnic minorities in the UK to participate and vote in political elections.
Because of a scandal in 2001 surrounding his previous affair with Karin Stanford (a staffer) that resulted to daughter Ashley, Jesse Jackson withdrew from his activist pursuits for a while. Jesse Jackson continues to give a monthly $4,000 child support.
In August 2009, Jesse Jackson was crowned Prince Côte Nana (High Prince of the Agni people of Côte d’Ivoire) by Amon N’Douffou V, King of Krindjabo, who ruled over a million Agni tribes people, inheriting the title from Michael Jackson.
In 2007, before the 2008 U.S. presidential elections, Jesse Jackson has declared his support to Barack Obama for the democratic primaries. However, Jesse Jackson was later on quoted criticizing Obama as “acting like he’s white.” Jesse Jackson was also caught whispering comments to Dr. Reed Tuckson (a fellow guest) about Obama’s Father’s Day speech that criticized African-American fathers during an interview with Fox News. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., Jesse Jackson Sr.’s son and staunch supporter of Obama, went on to apologize on behalf of his father, denouncing the elder Jackson’s words as “rude.”
On Barack Obama’s victory rally in Chicago’s Grant Park on November 4, 2008, Jesse Jackson was seen in tears while waiting for the elected president to appear on stage. Jesse Jackson’s support on the Barack Obama 2012 re-election campaign will yet to be seen.
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