Reverend Jesse Jackson
Jesse Louis Jackson is an American politician, civil rights activist, Baptist minister and a prominent leader of the American Christian left.
In 1965, Jesse Jackson participated in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s movement in Selma, Alabama. When Jackson returned from Selma, he threw himself into King’s effort to establish a beachhead of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in Chicago. In 1966, King selected Jackson to be head of the SCLC’s Operation Breadbasket in Chicago, and promoted him to be the national director in 1967. Jackson was present with King in Memphis when he was assassinated on April 4, 1968, the day after making his famous “I’ve been to the mountaintop” speech given to the Mason Temple, Church of God in Christ.
In 1984, Jackson organized the Rainbow Coalition, which later merged, in 1996, with Operation PUSH. That same year, Jackson became the second African American (after Shirley Chisholm) to mount a nationwide campaign for President of the United States, running unsuccessfully as a Democrat in the party primary. Four years later, in 1988, Jackson once again offered himself as a candidate for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.
Jackson has also served as statesman representing the U.S. in numerous international negotiations and diplomatic overtures. Most recently, in August 2005, Jackson traveled to Venezuela to meet President Hugo Chávez, following controversial remarks by televangelist Pat Robertson in which he implied that Chávez should be assassinated.
President Bill Clinton awarded Jesse Jackson the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest honor bestowed on civilians.