Reverend Jesse Jackson
Jesse Jackson was born on October 8, 1941 in South Carolina. Jesse’s mother was still in high school when she gave birth to him. She was not married to his birth father. Jesse’s birth father lived in the same town as his mother, but his father was married to someone else. He had very little contact with Jesse when he was young. His mother, Helen Burns, married Charles Henry Jackson when Jesse was two. Charles Jackson formally adopted Jesse in 1957 when he was 16 years old.
When Jesse was about six years old, he found out that Charles was not his biological father through the other kids at his school. This was very hard for Jesse to discover and he didn’t always know how to handle this information. Jesse had a lot of questions about his birth father. It took many years for Jesse to build a healthy relationship with him.
Jesse left South Carolina to go to college and play football at the University of Illinois. During his freshman year he believed he was being treated unfairly on and off the field because he was African-American. After only one year in Illinois, Jesse transferred to the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State College. Jesse was the quarterback for the football team there. He also became involved in civil rights while serving as student body president. Jesse graduated in 1964 and went on to the Chicago Theological Seminary to become a minister. Only one year later, in 1965, Jesse went to Alabama to take part in a civil rights march with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was here that his natural leadership abilities were noticed.
Since then, Jesse has been one of American's most important civil rights activists. Through the years, Jesse has worked closely with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Operation Breadbasket, Operation PUSH, PUSH/Excel, and The National Rainbow Coalition in order to help improve the lives of minorities. Jesse has also become highly involved in American politics, and has also given his voice and diplomatic skills to help the American government interact with other countries. Use your favorite search engine or visit your library to learn more about Jesse Jackson. If you learn more about Jesse that you would like to share with us, send an email.
Information retrieved from: www.africanamericans.com and "Jesse Jackson." Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 27. Edited by Ashyia Henderson. Gale Group, 2001.