Jesse Jackson steps down as head of Rainbow Push – Today News

GARY FIELDS and CLAIRE SAVAGE (Associated Press)

CHICAGO ( — The Reverend Jesse Jackson plans to step down as leader of the Chicago-based civil rights organization Rainbow PUSH Coalition, which he founded in 1971, the organization said Friday.

“The Reverend Jesse Jackson is officially stepping down from his role as President of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. His commitment is unwavering and he will elevate his life’s work by teaching ministers how to fight for social justice and continue the freedom movement,” the organization said in a statement. “Reverend. Jackson’s global impact and civil rights career will be celebrated this weekend at the 57th Annual Rainbow Push Coalition Convention, where his successor will be unveiled.”

Jackson, a civil rights leader and two-time presidential candidate, plans to announce his decision Sunday during the organization’s annual convention, one of his sons, Rep. Jonathan Jackson, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Jonathan Jackson, an Illinois Democrat, said his father was “always in the arena of justice and never stopped fighting for civil rights” and this would be “his mark on history.”

The Reverend Jesse Jackson, who turns 82 in October, has remained a vocal civil rights activist in recent years despite health problems.

In 2017, he announced that he had begun outpatient treatment for Parkinson’s disease two years earlier. He underwent gallbladder surgery in early 2021 and was treated for COVID-19 later that year, including a stay in a physical therapy facility. In November 2021, he was again hospitalized due to a fall with a head injury.

Jackson, a protégé of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., broke with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1971 to form Operation PUSH—originally called Men United for the Salvation of Mankind—a broad-based civil rights organization based in South Chicago.

The organization was later renamed the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and its mission ranged from encouraging corporations to hire more minorities to registering voters in communities of color. His annual convention is this weekend in Chicago.

Jackson has long been an influential voice in American politics.

Prior to the election of Barack Obama in 2008, Jackson was the most successful black candidate for the presidency of the United States, winning 13 primaries and caucuses for the Democratic nomination in 1988.

Jackson helped guide the modern civil rights movement on a wide range of issues, including voting rights and education.

He stood with George Floyd’s family at a memorial to a black man who was killed in 2020 by a white police officer, whose death forced the country to pay homage to police brutality and racism. Jackson has also been involved in COVID-19 vaccination campaigns to combat indecision in black communities.

Santita Jackson, one of his daughters, said in an interview that her father would not disappear. “While the flesh may not want, the spirit does,” she said, adding that she hoped her father would provide a living story. “Doctor. King gave him a mission, and he was faithful to him throughout his life. Many say Dr. King was an architect and Reverend Jackson a builder.”

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson called Jackson “the architect of the soul of Chicago” in a statement Friday.

“During his decades of service, he led the Rainbow PUSH Coalition at the forefront of the fight for civil rights and social justice. His faith, his perseverance, his love, and his relentless dedication to people inspire all of us to continue striving for a better tomorrow,” said Johnson, who Jackson endorsed when he ran for mayor earlier this year.

Al Sharpton, president and founder of the National Action Network, said in a statement that he spoke with Jackson on Friday morning and “told him that we will continue to hear from him, learn from him and duplicate him in any of our organizations and media.” . there are platforms. Because he was an anchor for me and many others.”

Sharpton called Jackson his mentor, adding, “The resignation of the Reverend Jesse Jackson marks the turn of one of the most productive, prophetic and dominant figures in the struggle for social justice in American history.”


Savage is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on hidden issues. Fields reported from Washington, DC.

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