The Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, president and founder of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, is one of America’s foremost political figures. Called the “conscience of the nation” and “the great unifier,” he challenges Americans to establish just and humane priorities and is known for bringing people together across lines of race, class, gender, and belief.
He was an assistant to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and during that period he directed Operation Breadbasket and subsequently founded People United to Save Humanity (PUSH) in Chicago in 1971 to expand employment and educational opportunities for the disadvantaged and communities of color. After that he created the National Rainbow Coalition in 1984, a national social justice organization devoted to education, political empowerment, and changing public policy. The Rainbow Coalition and Operation PUSH merged into the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition in September 1996 to continue both philosophies and maximize their resources.
Jackson advocated for national healthcare, a war on drugs, dialogue with the Soviet Union, and negotiations with the Middle East long before they were popular positions. Jesse Jackson effectively brought South African apartheid and the fight for democracy in Haiti to the limelight of the national conscience. The most important area of his work has been his commitment to youth – inspiring hope and challenging young people to improve themselves with academic excellence and to stay clear of drugs – and the American labor movement – working with unions to organize workers and mediate labor disputes.
As a renowned orator, Reverend Jesse Jackson has received numerous awards for his work in human and civil rights and for non-violent social change.