Jesse Jackson’s Biography

Jesse Jackson

At the age of 16, Helen Burns Straggs gave birth to a son Jesse Louis Burns. Jesse was born in Greenville, South Caroline on October 18, 1941. At the time of Jesse’s birth his father, Noah Louis Robinson, was married to another woman and was not involved in Jesse’s life. Noah died January 28, 1997. When Jesse was 2 years old his mother married Charles Henry Jackson and adopted Jesse 14 years later. Jesse then took on the surname of his step father and has since been known as Jesse Jackson.

Jesse Jackson graduated 10th in his class at Sterling High School, a segregated high school in Greenville. Jackson rejected a professional baseball contract to accept a football scholarship to the University of Illiniois. Jesse left after just one year due to racial biases he experienced while on the football team. Jackson then transferred to North Carolina A&T, an agricultural and technical college located in Greensboro, North Carolina. Jesse graduated in 1964 with a B.A. in Sociology. Jackson moved to Chicago where he did graduate work at the Chicago Theological Seminary but dropped out in 1966 to focus on the Civil Rights Movement. Although he never received a theological degree, in 1968 Jesse Jackson was ordained a Baptist minister.

Jesse Jackson married Jacqueline Lavinia Brown on December 31, 1962. They have five children, the oldest Sanita Jackson born in 1963, followed by Jesse Jackson Jr. born in 1965, and just one year later Jonathan Luther Jackson was born in 1966, four years later in 1970 Yusef DuBois Jackson was born, then finally their baby girl Jacqueline Lavinia Jackson Jr. was born in 1975. Ashley Jackson was born out of wedlock in 1999 to Karin Stanford; it was revealed in 2001 that Jesse Jackson had an affair with one of his staffers at The Rainbow Push Coalition.


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