Jesse Jackson Fast Facts

The Rev. Jesse Jackson

Here's a look at the life of civil rights activist and clergyman Jesse Jackson.

Birth date:
October 8, 1941

Birth place: Greenville, South Carolina

    Birth name: Jesse Louis Burns

    Father: Noah Robinson, cotton grader

    Mother: Helen (Burns) Jackson, hairdresser

    Marriage: Jacqueline Lavinia (Brown) Jackson (December 31, 1962-present)

    Children: with Karin Stanford: Ashley (May 1999); with Jacqueline: Jacqueline (September 2, 1975); Yusef (September 26, 1970); Jonathan (January 7, 1966); Jesse, Jr. (March 11, 1965); Santita (July 16, 1963)

    Education: North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, Greensboro, 1964, B.A. - Sociology; Chicago Theological Seminary, 2000, M. Div

    Religion: Baptist

    Other Facts:
    Ran for president twice, but has never held elective office.

    After high school graduation, Jackson received an offer from the Chicago White Sox and a football scholarship from the University of Illinois. He chose the football scholarship but later transferred to North Carolina A&T State University.

    Jackson's son, Jesse, Jr., is a former U.S. congressman who represented Illinois' 2nd District.

    1943 -
    Jackson's mother marries Charles Henry Jackson. He formally adopts Jesse in 1957.

    July 17, 1960 - Jackson begins his civil rights activism when he and seven others enter the "whites only" public library in Greenville County, South Carolina. They are subsequently arrested and jailed. A lawyer files suit on their behalf and two months later the library system abandons formal segregation of its downtown library.

    1965 - Participates in civil rights demonstrations in Selma, Alabama, with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

    1966 - Is chosen by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to head the Chicago branch of Operation Breadbasket, an organization that strives to improve the economic condition of black communities across the nation.

    August 1967 - Appointed national director of Operation Breadbasket.

    1968 - Is ordained a Baptist minister.

    December 1971 - Resigns from the SCLC and forms Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity) in Chicago.

    1971-1986 - Executive Director of Operation PUSH.

    November 3, 1983 - Formally announces his candidacy for the 1984 Democratic presidential nomination.

    1984 - Secures the release of 48 Cuban and Cuban-American prisoners held in Cuba and of Navy Lieutenant Robert Goodman, an African-American pilot held hostage in Syria.

    April 17, 1986 - Founds the National Rainbow Coalition, a national social justice organization in Washington, D.C.

    October 10, 1987 - Formally announces his candidacy for the 1988 Presidential election.

    1992-2000 - Hosts "Both Sides with Jesse Jackson" on CNN.

    September 1996 - Operation Push and the Rainbow Coalition merge to form Rainbow/Operation Push.

    May 1, 1999 - Successfully negotiates with Slobodan Milosevic for the release of three U.S. soldiers who had been held in Yugoslavia for over a month.

    August 9, 2000 - Receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton.

    January 18, 2001 - Publicly acknowledges he fathered a daughter out of wedlock in 1999 with Karin Stanford, the former head of Rainbow/PUSH's Washington bureau.

    July 9, 2008 - Apologizes for disparaging comments he made on July 6 about presidential candidate Barack Obama while on a break during an interview by Fox News. Jackson says he was unaware his microphone was still on.

    September 2012 - Two Americans serving prison sentences for treason in the Gambia are allowed to return to the United States after Jackson makes a face-to-face appeal to President Yahya Jammeh for their release.

    October 2013 - Following public pleas from Jackson, Colombia's FARC guerrillas release Kevin Scott Sutay, who had been captured by FARC guerrillas on June 20, while he was backpacking through Colombia.

    August 19, 2014 - Writes an op-ed article for USA Today, "There's a 'Ferguson' Near You," commenting on the shooting death of 18-year-old Ferguson, Missouri, resident Michael Brown, which sparked protests and a national debate.