Member Login

Member Login

Password *

Number 1 Shimbun

From the Archives: Jesse Jackson, Sr.

No1-2018-03 1 Jackson


From the Archives: Jesse Jackson, Sr.

by Charles Pomeroy

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, civil-rights activist and U.S. presidential candidate, spoke at a Club luncheon on December 9, 1986, following political successes that helped the Democratic Party regain control of the U.S. Senate that year. Naoki Usui (McGraw-Hill) is seated to his right and to his left is Richard Pyle (AP), to whom tribute was paid in the October 2017 issue of No. 1 Shimbun following his death in September. Richard is flanked by David Watts (The Times).

Jesse Jackson was born in South Carolina on October 8, 1941, to a single mother who married a year later. He was given his stepfather’s surname following adoption. Childhood taunts for his out-of-wedlock birth inspired him to succed in life. That he did, largely through efforts to overcome racial prejudice and improve human relations as reflected in his eventual founding of Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity, later changed to People United to Serve Humanity) in 1971 and the National Rainbow Coalition in 1984. He merged the two nonprofit organizations to create Rainbow/PUSH in 1996.

A major boost for these efforts came from Jesse Jackson’s close association with Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s in which he played a major role as head of Operation Breadbasket, based in Chicago. Following King’s assassination in 1968, the same year he became an ordained minister, Jackson’s activites became more diverse and influential. In addition to his Rainbow Coalition and PUSH efforts, he conducted successful negotiations resulting in the release of many international hostages and prisoners in the 1980s and 1990s, meeting with then-leaders of Syria, Cuba, Iraq, Kenya, Yugolsavia, Northern Ireland and Venezuela. His major theme was peace and better human relationships, as he emphasized in visits to other countries as well.

In the political sphere, Jesse Jackson was also the first serious African-American candidate for president, in 1984 and 1988. He also hosted a weeklyCNN news show, “Both Sides With Jesse Jackson,” from 1992 to 2000 and served as “Shadow Senator” from the District of Columbia from 1992 to 1997. His many awards include the Presidential Medal of Freedom, received from Pesident Clinton in 2000.

Jesse Jackson married in 1962 and produced five children, the second of whom, Jesse Jackson, Jr., born in 1965, went on to a political career of his own and served in the House of Representatives from 1995 until 2012. Bipolar disorder and misappropriation of funds led to his resignation and prison time. The junior Jackson’s second son, Jonathon Luther, born in 1996, became an educator and social justice advocate as well as spokesman for the Rainbow/PUSH coalition.

Parkinson’s disease, diagnosed in 2017, brought to a close the diverse activities of Jesse Jackson, Sr.

(Charles Pomeroy is editor of Foreign Correspondents in Japan, a history of the Club that is available at the front desk.)


Published in: March 2018

Leave a comment



Go to top