By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Senior National Correspondent
Tributes have continued to pour in for the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who announced on July 14 his retirement as President and CEO of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the influential civil rights organization he started decades ago to carry on the struggle for equality and justice that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought heroically.
The organization said Rev. Dr. Frederick D. Haynes III will succeed Jackson.
“The promise of America is that we are all created equal in the image of God and deserve to be treated equally throughout our lives. While we’ve never fully lived up to that promise, we’ve never fully walked away from it because of extraordinary leaders like Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr.,” President Joe Biden stated.
“Throughout our decades of friendship and partnership, I’ve seen how Reverend Jackson has helped lead our nation forward through tumult and triumph.”
The President continued, “Whether on the campaign trail, on the march for equality, or in the room advocating for what is right and just, I’ve seen him as history will remember him: a man of God and of the people; determined, strategic, and unafraid of the work to redeem the soul of our nation.”
One of Jackson’s comrades in the civil rights struggle, National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., echoed Biden’s remarks.
“On behalf of the NNPA, representing the Black Press of America, I am so pleased to issue the NNPA’s highest regards and respect to the Honorable Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr.,” Chavis remarked.
“I have known and worked with the Rev. Jackson all of my adult life as a fellow freedom fighter in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, NAACP, Rainbow PUSH, United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice, and the National African American Leadership Summit.”
Chavis continued, “Rev. Jackson’s transformative ‘Run Jesse Run’ presidential campaigns in the 1980s irreversibly changed America for the better.
“The Black Press resolutely salutes Jesse Jackson’s outstanding national and global leadership, and we pledge to keep fighting for freedom, justice, equality, and equity.”
Jackson, a renowned figure in the fight for civil rights, founded PUSH (People United to Save Humanity) in 1971 and established the National Rainbow Coalition in 1984.
In 1996, the two organizations merged to form the powerful and influential Rainbow PUSH Coalition.
Organization officials said Dr. Haynes, a Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Inc. co-chair, has exemplified the same passion and commitment to global racial justice that characterizes Jackson’s legacy.
As a co-founder of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference (SDPC), Inc., Haynes has been a guiding force for over two decades, upholding the mission and ministry of the organization.
“This nation has entered a new era of struggle against racial injustices, hate speech, new forms of institutional oppression against the poor, people of color, and those marginalized due to religion or sexual orientation,” said Dr. Iva Carruthers, general secretary, and co-founder of the SDPC.
Bishop Leah Daughtry, co-chair of the SDPC, highlighted the necessity for collaboration between national and local organizations during what he called critical times.
“Collaboration between national and local organizations is ever more needed at this time,” he said in a news release.
According to his official biography, Jackson was born on October 8, 1941, in Greenville, South Carolina.
He graduated from the public schools in Greenville and then enrolled in the University of Illinois on a football scholarship.
Jackson later transferred to North Carolina A&T State University and graduated in 1964.
He began his theological studies at Chicago Theological Seminary but, according to his bio, deferred his studies when he started working full-time in the Civil Rights Movement with Dr. King.
Ordained by Rev. Clay Evans on June 30, 1968, Jackson received his Master of Divinity degree from Chicago Theological Seminary in 2000.
For his work in human and civil rights and nonviolent social change, Jackson has received over 40 honorary doctorate degrees and frequently lectures at major colleges and universities, including Howard, Yale, Princeton, Morehouse, Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, and Hampton.
He was made an Honorary Fellow of Regents Park College at Oxford University in the UK in November 2007 and received an Honorary Fellowship from Edge Hill University in Liverpool, England.
In March 2010, Jackson earned induction into England’s prestigious Cambridge Union Society.
In April 2010, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.
In October 1997, President Bill Clinton appointed Jackson as Special Envoy of the President and Secretary of State for the Promotion of Democracy in Africa.
“Jill and I are grateful to Rev. Jackson for his lifetime of dedicated service and extend our appreciation to the entire Jackson family,” Biden added.
“We look forward to working with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition as he hands the torch to the next generation of leadership, just as we will continue to cherish the counsel and wisdom that we draw from him.”