Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. is expected to step down as president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. In 1996, the activist founded the prominent nonprofit organization in Chicago, Illinois to pursue civil rights and social justice issues.
The senior Jackson will announce his retirement at the annual Rainbow PUSH convention in Chicago on Sunday. Vice President Kamala Harris will the keynote for the event. And a successor to Jackson is also expected to be announced.
“He’s had physical challenges, but he never stopped fighting. He’s been fighting for Civil Rights since 1961,” said the member of Congress, who also worked for the nonprofit Rainbow PUSH. The senior Jackson was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2017.
“He didn’t give up when there were forces against the Voting Rights Act, or forces against the Equal Rights Amendment or addressing priorities at home or peace abroad,” said the younger Jackson of his father. Rev. Jackson, who founded the organization in 1996 to pursue social justice and civil rights issues.
Over the years, Rev. Jackson has led protests to desegregate theaters and restaurants. He marched in Selma, Ala., after “Bloody Sunday” in 1965. And he was an aide to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. before he started Rainbow PUSH. Just two years ago, Jackson led a march through Kenosha, Wis., in response to the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, who killed two men and injured a third during civil unrest.
Jackson, an 81-year-old Chicagoan, remains a familiar face on the civic and political scenes. He traveled to Washington to support his son when he was sworn in earlier this year. And just last month, he sat front and center for President Joe Biden’s speech on the economy held in Chicago.
This weekend’s Rainbow PUSH convention includes a reception for former campaign workers from Jackson’s historic 1984 and 1988 presidential bids.
Jackson’s 1984 campaign “shocked many,” according to Chinta Strausberg in the Crusader, which first reported Jackson’s retirement. He ran “a very inclusive campaign despite the rejection of his candidacy by many key Blacks,” the paper said.
In 1988, Jackson won Michigan “even though political experts thought a Black man would never win a northern industrial state,” political consultant Delmarie Cobb, who worked on Jackson’s campaigns, told Illinois Playbook.