People Who Kick Buts: Jesse Jackson
Part of our mission is to finish unfinished business.
- Born on October 8, 1941 in Greenville, South Carolina.
- He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served as shadow senator for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997.
He was the founder of both entities that merged to form Rainbow/PUSH.
- Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. is his eldest son.
- In an AP-AOL “Black Voices” poll in February 2006, Jackson was voted “the most important black leader”.
- Jackson was born Jesse Louis Burns in Greenville, South Carolina, to Helen Burns, a 16-year-old single mother.
His biological father, Noah Louis Robinson, a former professional boxer and a prominent figure in the community, was married to another woman when Jesse was born.
He was not involved in his son’s life, and died January 28, 1997 in Greenville, S.C.
In 1943, two years after Jesse’s birth, his mother married Charles Henry Jackson, who would adopt Jesse 14 years later. Jesse went on to take the surname of his stepfather.
- Jackson attended Sterling High School, a segregated high school in Greenville, where he was a student-athlete.
Upon graduating in 1959, he rejected a contract from a professional baseball team so that he could attend the racially integrated University of Illinois on a football scholarship.
- Following his graduation from A&T, Jackson attended the Chicago Theological Seminary with the intent of becoming a minister, but dropped out in 1966 to focus full time on the civil rights movement.
- When King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, the day after his famous “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech at the Mason Temple, Jackson was in the parking lot one floor below. Jackson’s appearance on NBC’s Today Show, wearing the same blood-stained turtleneck that he had worn the day before, drew criticism from several King aides; some King associates also dispute Jackson’s description of his personal involvement and also of the sequence of events surrounding the assassination.
- Jackson married Jacqueline Lavinia Brown (born 1944) on, December 31, 1962, and they had five children.
- On Memorial Day, May 25, 1987, he was made a Master Mason on Sight by Grand Master Senter of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Illinois; thereby making Jesse Jackson a Prince Hall Freemason.
- In 2001, it was revealed Jackson had an affair with a staffer, Karin Stanford, that resulted in the birth of a daughter, Ashley. This incident prompted Jackson to withdraw from activism for a short time.