Rev. Jesse Jackson steps down from Rainbow/PUSH Coalition after half-century
The Rev. Jesse Jackson announced Friday he is stepping down from the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition after a half century at the helm of the influential Chicago-based civil rights organization.
The iconic activist and trailblazing presidential candidate, 81, will hand over the reins to an undisclosed successor who will be introduced this weekend at the group’s annual convention, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Kamala Harris, the first Black vice president in American history, will speak Sunday at the group’s convention, which appears likely to amount to an extended emotional send-off to Jackson.
Headquartered on Chicago’s predominantly Black South Side, Rainbow/PUSH has long been Jackson’s national platform to promote economic, educational and political change as well as his own political ambitions.
Born in small town South Carolina, Jackson vaulted to national prominence in the civil rights movement after meeting the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965.
He soon became the head of the Chicago chapter of Operation Breadbasket, the economic arm of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference aimed at promoting employment for the Black community.
After King’s assassination in 1968, Jackson’s profile as a key African-American leader only grew as he filled a leadership void in the movement.
Jackson burst onto the national political scene in 1984 when he became the first Black candidate to mount a serious presidential campaign.
He finished an impressive third in the Democratic primary race behind Walter Mondale and Gary Hart, garnering more than 3 million votes, and delivered a stirring speech that cemented his place as the nation’s top Black political leader.