"Both tears and sweat are salty, but they render a different result. Tears will get you sympathy; sweat will get you change."
-The Reverend Jesse Jackson All quotes by him.
Reverend Jesse Jackson is one of the most influential Preachers in the United States. He is best known for his role in the civil rights movement, and also for his work in politics, including two runs for the Democratic Presidential Nomination.
Update: However, it appears that in recent years, Jesse has taken to spending less and less effort and time actually fixing problems, relating to equality or not, and more time for personal advancement, either exposure, or moneywise.
I'm not quite sure to what extent this is going on, because up here in Canada, I don't get much media coverage of whatever he may be doing. I'm not sure when this may have started, but the cynic in me is going to guess about the time he decided to enter into politics.
Keep in mind that in the past, he did a lot of good work, especially with the civil rights movement, and that many of the programs that he helped to establish are good, but take things with a grain of salt. Back to the bio.
"Your children need your presence more than your presents."
Jesse Jackson was born in Greenville, South Carolina on October 8, 1941, the son of 16-year-old Helen Burns and her married next door neighbour, Noah Robinson. When Jesse was two years old, his mother married Charles Jackson. To try and avoid various social stigma, they tried to pretend that Jesse was Charles' son. However, that didn't work out all that well, with young Jesse finding out from neighbourhood kids and his grandmother.
Jesse came to know his biological father, despite the fact that the man's wife didn't really like the reminder of her husband's infidelity being around.
When Jesse was 16, Charles finally legally adopted the boy.
"Today's students can put dope in their veins or hope in their brains. If they can conceive it and believe it, they can achieve it. They must know it is not their aptitude but their attitude that will determine their altitude."
As a young man, Jesse was a good student, and an excellent athlete, getting good grades and playing as quarterback on his high school's football team.
At first, Jesse went to the University of Illinois on a football scholarship. He didn't like it there all that much, what with the fact that the black players were only allowed to play crappy positions, despite the fact he was a better player than most of them there. He felt he wasn't getting the respect he deserved, with both good grades and excellent athletic skills.
After his freshman year, in 1960, he transferred to the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. He played as quarterback while there, and became more involved on campus.
First he joined the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. Then, he started leading students in various activist marches, such as leading them into restaurants and public buildings that disallowed black people. He was first arrested in 1963, in connection with a demonstration for the end of segregation.
While at school, he also met Jacqueline Lavinia Davis, who was studying psychology and sociology. They started dating, and were married in 1962. They had their first child, Sanita, in 1963. Unfortunately, Jacqueline was forced to drop out of school in order to support the baby.
They had a total of five children, three sons Jesse Louis b. 1965, Jonathon Luther b. 1966, Yusef Dubois b. 1970, and finally daughter Jacqueline Lavina b. 1975.
"When we're unemployed, we're called lazy; when the whites are unemployed it's called a depression.
After graduation, he was offered a scholarship at Duke University's Law School, but he turned it down, electing to study at the Chicago Theological Seminary. He moved with his family to Chicago in 1964 to study Ministry. He didn't stick around there, dropping out six months before his graduation to head to Selma, Alabama, to join Martin Luther King Jr., who was at the time leading the fight to get more black voters.
Jesse assisted in the campaign in Selma, a direct result of which was the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Jackson and Dr. King didn't always get along, with Dr. King disliking the way Jesse always wanted to get his way. At one point Dr. King got pissed off and asked Jackson to leave, but he relented, and Jesse stayed with him.
Jackson joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) that same year, and became the director of its Operation Breadbasket, the economic arm of the organization, from 1967 to 1971. He was also ordained as a Baptist minister in 1968.
Jackson was there on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, when James Earl Ray assassinated Martin Luther King Jr.
"A man must be willing to die for justice. Death is an inescapable reality and men die daily, but good deeds live forever."
After Dr. King's assassination, Jackson drew some flak, by talking to the press about it when he had told others that they shouldn't. This is something that would happen often, Jesse being accused of working for a good cause with self serving goals.
It was accusations of this type that lead him to be pushed out of the SCLC in 1971. Not letting that stop him, he went on to found his own organization, Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity), based in Chicago. He used the organization to continue the work he was doing with Operation Breadbasket, and also expanded into the areas of social and political development.
Jackson was convinced, and quite rightly so, that the best way to improve the situation for black people in America was to see that more of them got an education. One factor that he concentrated on was drug abuse and teenage pregnancy, factors which certainly reduce the chances of getting a college degree.
His passion and his unique oratory style soon thrust him into the position of the most visible member of the civil rights movement. He fought hard, founding PUSH-EXCEL, a program to motivate inner-city children to do better in school. The campaign showed results, and was granted funding from the Carter administration to expand the program to five other cities.
"I hear that melting-pot stuff a lot, and all I can say is that we haven't melted."
Jackson will likely be best known for his two runs for the Presidency of the United States of America. He ran for the Democratic nomination for the 1984, with the support of the Rainbow Coalition, an organization for a variety of minority groups.
The first run didn't go all that well. Support among black voters was split between himself, and former Vice President Walter Mondale. He also made a number of embarrassing remarks, which isn't surprising, since he was a newcomer to the game of politics.
The 1988 campaign ran a lot smoother. The last try was mostly a symbolic gesture. In this one, he was a real candidate. He had matured a lot in the 4 years between the two Democratic conventions, and presented a much smoother, polished image, without any of the screw ups that happened the last time around.
In the end, he finished a strong 2nd to Michael Dukakis. Dukakis then went on to screw up a double digit lead in the polls right after his nomination, getting spanked by Bush. Erm, the original Bush.
Even so, Jesse Jackson has come closer to the Presidency of the United States of America than any other black man. With the possible exception of Colin Powell, who would probably be President today if he had wanted the job. But he didn't and we have the shrub in charge. Oh well. I'm glad I live in Canada.
Update: Woooooooah Nelly is that statement now incorrect! Oh 2002, I'm glad it's not you anymore! So seriously, as of now, the black man who has come closest to becoming the POTUS is Barack Obama. Because, you know, he won the election and all. And, barring any unforseen events, he'll be inaugurated come January. Huzzah!
But enough about other people! This is about Jesse Jackson!
"Never look down on anybody unless you're helping them up."
After that, he packed up the Rainbow Coalition, and headed out to Washington, D.C., figuring it'd be easier to get work done in the nation's capital.
He continues to try and solve the problems of crime, drug use, teenage pregnancy, inadequate health care, inadequate voter registration, and others.
He's also been busy with foreign affairs. In 1991, just after Iraq invaded Kuwait, he headed to Iraq and talked Saddam Hussein into releasing some American hostages. In 1994, he made a trip to Cuba to talk with Fidel Castro, and was later sent by President Clinton to Nigeria on a peace mission.
He decided to not try his hand at national politics again, however he did assist his son in doing so, helping Jesse Jackson Jr. get elected to Congress, representing Illinois.
"I am not a perfect servant. I am a public servant doing my best against the odds. As I develop and serve, be patient. God is not finished with me yet."
When the whole Clinton-Lewinsky scandal broke, Jesse was by Clinton's side, praying with the Clinton family. This kind of came back to bite Jackson in the ass, as it later surfaced that he'd been a bit of a naughty boy himself.
Apparently he'd been unfaithful to his wife for quite a while, which was known by, and tolerated by, everyone on his staff, and his wife. He even knocked up one of his Rainbow Coalition staff members.
So yeah, he's a hypocrite. He's human. He's also done a lot of great work for the advancement of equality in the United States and around the world. This is always a good thing.
Update: Of course, being situated in Canada, I really don't hear too much of the more minor stupid stuff he might pull. And let's face it, he doesn't really work for equality, he works for the advancement of African-Americans, which are sometimes related concepts, but often times not. See Affirmative Action. p.s. This update was written before the one above.