Reverend Jesse L. Jackson “I am somebody.” Born in the year 1941, from the town of Greenville, South Carolina, Jesse Jackson was and still is one of the most powerful civil rights leaders of the twentieth century. His voice, face, and organizations have been very popular and intricate to the civil rights movement. He has fought for not only African Americans, but has also met with world leaders and was successful where other politicians were not. Many people do not realize the reverends ties to our great state.
Reverend Jackson actually attended the University of Illinois on a football scholarship for a short time before transferring to the North Carolina Agriculture and Technical College. In North Carolina he received his BA in sociology. He then returned to Illinois and attended the Chicago Theological Seminary. This seminar had a large impact on his life, and he was ordained as a Baptist minister in 1968. Reverend Jackson soon started his very own Operation Push, (also known as People United to Save Humanity), which was based in Chicago, after he controlled the Chicago wing of Operation Breadbasket.
His work for black rights over time expanded to truly represent all kinds of people. After more than fifteen years of fighting for racial equality, in 1984, Reverend Jackson ran for his first presidential election, with the help of his National Rainbow Coalition, Inc., an umbrella organization of minority groups. Much of his interests became shifted towards womens, minorities, and much broader civil issues as problems arose around him that opened his eyes to other problems in society. After unsuccessfully running for president two elections in a row, Jesse decided to get involved in other ways politically. In 1991, after no other political leader could convince Saddam Hussein to release American prisoners caught during the gulf war, Reverend Jackson convinced the Iraqi leader to begin releasing the prisoners after a very short conversation. Jackson also played a very important role in the release of Navy Lieutenant Robert Goodman from Syria in1984, and the long awaited release of forty-eight Cuban hostages just four years later, in 1988.
These accomplishments are also accompanied by a large amount of even more impressive facts. In the two elections Reverend Jackson ran in, he won a total of votes higher than ten and a half million. Jesse also registered over three million new voters in the years her ran for election, in 1984 and 1988. He hasnt run for president for nearly ten years, but he doesnt rule out the possibility of running again. His son, Jesse Jr.
is currently representing Illinois in the House of Representatives and Jesse himself is working in the U.S. Senate, trying to make the District of Columbia pass into statehood. The district, with a large amount of minorities, has a higher population than five current states, yet has no political voice or representation. Jesse has received over forty honorary degrees, saved many lives, and inspired millions. He has received the NAACP award for lifetime achievement, and has been named the top ten most respected Americans in the United States for the last twelve years.
The Reverend Jesse L. Jackson has truly proved that his motto, “I am somebody,” not only applies to him, but can also apply to anyone, no matter what gender, ethnicity, or social class. Yes, Reverend Jackson your are right when you say, “I am somebody.” Works Cited Winslap, Michael. Civil Rights Leaders: Jesse Jackson. New York: Brunswick Publishing, 1996.
Mitchell, Malcom. “Jesse Jackson.” National Rainbow Coalition. 10 December 1998. Http://www.usbol.com/ctjournal/Jjacksonbio.html. (13 March 1999).