Jesse Jackson Profile

  • Iconic civil rights activist, Rev. Jesse Jackson has been fighting for people on the margins for six decades.

  • A two-time candidate for president and frequent DNC speaker, Jackson is regarded as one of the most riveting and effective orators of his era.

  • Jackson’s leadership efforts have led to increased voter participation among minorities and youth, a fairer election process in the democratic primaries, and the release of over two dozen political prisoners.
  • Social justice warrior Jesse Jackson has been fighting for racial equality and human rights for sixty years. Jackson’s legacy began with his arrest at a 1960 civil rights action at the Greenville Public Library in South Carolina. He worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr. from 1965 until King’s death, but carried on his torch of nonviolent grassroots revolution.

    Throughout decades, Jackson formed and directed organizations such as Operation Breadbasket, PUSH (People United to Save Humanity), and the Rainbow Coalition. These groups were responsible for increasing employment and financial opportunities for blacks and other underserved populations. Jackson is credited as having inspired tens of thousands of youth and minority voters to register. President Barack Obama has also cited Jackson’s 1984 presidential campaign as one of his inspirations to run, saying that Jackson’s debate performance was the first time he believed a black man could win the presidency.

    A two-time presidential candidate, Jackson broke new ground winning 21% of the popular vote in the 1988 Democratic Primary. However, due to party rules and a winner-take-all delegates system, he was only awarded 9% of the delegates. Jackson’s advocacy for a more democratic system eventually pushed the DNC to change regulations making delegate selection more proportional – a move that enabled Obama’s 2008 win over Hillary Clinton.

    Jackson’s influence has spread far beyond U.S. borders. During the 1980s he brought global attention to the injustice of Apartheid in South Africa. He has had diplomatic meetings with Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein, and other world leaders which resulted in the release of political prisoners from Syria, Cuba, Iraq, and Serbia.

    Jackson served in the unpaid elected position of shadow US Senator of Washington D.C. from 1991 until 1997. He hosted the CNN show Both Sides With Jesse Jackson from 1992 until 2000.

    • View Extended/Alternate Bio

      The Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, is one of the world’s foremost human rights, religious and political figures. For more than 50 years, the two-time presidential candidate, former CNN talk show host and newspaper columnist has played a pivotal role in civil rights, gender equality, and social justice. In 2000 President Bill Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour. Today, Rev. Jackson is at the forefront of the struggle for diversity and equality as he crosses the globe in the name of nonviolence and justice, tearing down walls and building bridges.

      The Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, president and founder of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, is one of America’s foremost political figures. Called the “conscience of the nation” and “the great unifier,” he challenges Americans to establish just and humane priorities and is known for bringing people together across lines of race, class, gender, and belief.

      An assistant to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Reverend Jackson directed Operation Breadbasket and subsequently founded People United to Save Humanity (PUSH) in Chicago in 1971 to expand educational and employment opportunities for the disadvantaged and communities of color. He then founded the National Rainbow Coalition in 1984, a national social justice organization devoted to political empowerment, education, and changing public policy. The Rainbow Coalition and Operation PUSH merged into the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition in September 1996 to continue both philosophies and maximize their resources.

      Reverend Jackson advocated for national healthcare, a war on drugs, dialogue with the Soviet Union, and negotiations with the Middle East long before they were popular positions, and effectively brought South African apartheid and the fight for democracy in Haiti to the forefront of the national conscience. A hallmark of his work has been his commitment to youth – inspiring hope and challenging young people to award themselves with academic excellence and to stay drug-free – and the American labor movement – working with unions to organize workers and mediate labor disputes.

      A renowned orator, Reverend Jackson has received numerous honors for his work in human and civil rights and for non-violent social change.

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    Jesse Jackson's Speech Descriptions

    Civil rights crusader, Jesse Jackson has been fighting social injustice for over 50 years. Jackson’s intellect and soul-driven dialogue has empowered millions around the world to stand up to corrupt systems and demand accountability, transparency, and reform. Drawing from history and current events, the legendary reverend outlines how ordinary citizens can build community and drive the process of societal transformation.

    - With Justice for All: Human Rights and Civil Rights At Home and Abroad
    - Making the American Dream a Reality for All Countries Including the US
    - Straight from the Heart
    - Keep Hope Alive

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    “The good Reverend Jackson was gracious and loquacious. It was a pleasure to have him in our company and a treat to meet someone I would define as a living legend.”
    – St. Louis Public Library

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