Jesse Jackson steps down from Chicago civil rights org

 July 16, 2023

Jesse Jackson is stepping down from his leadership position atop the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. 

Jackson's resignation was announced in a statement released by the organization on Friday, the Associated Press reports.

Jackson founded the coalition - a Chicago-based civil rights organization - in 1971. Originally, the organization was named People United to Save Humanity, but that name was later changed to the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

According to the organization's website, "the Rainbow PUSH Coalition (RPC) is a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international membership organization fighting for social change. Its mission is "to protect, defend, and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields, and to promote peace and justice around the world."

Jackson's resignation

In its statement, RPC describes Jackson as "officially pivoting" from his position atop the organization.

"Reverend Jesse Jackson is officially pivoting from his role as president of Rainbow PUSH Coalition," the statement beings.

It continues, "His commitment is unwavering, and he will elevate his life’s work by teaching ministers how to fight for social justice and continue the freedom movement."

Over the weekend, Jackson confirmed his resignation in a speech that he gave at the RPC's annual convention on Saturday.

The local outlet WGN9 reports:

Jackson, 81, announced his resignation during a quiet farewell speech at the organization’s annual convention, where the group paid tribute to him with songs, kind words from other Black activists and politicians, and a video montage of Jackson’s 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns.

Why now?

It is not immediately clear why Jackson has chosen now to resign.

It is no secret that Jackson, who in the coming months will turn 82 years old, has dealt will significant health problems in recent years. The Associate Press reports:

He announced in 2017 that he had begun outpatient care for Parkinson’s disease two years earlier. In early 2021, he had gallbladder surgery and later that year was treated for COVID-19 including a stint at a physical therapy-focused facility. He was hospitalized again in November 2021 for a fall that caused a head injury.

Yet, despite all of these health problems, Jackson has continued to be an active voice in the realm of civil rights.

It appears that we can expect more of the same from Jackson despite his retirement from RPC. This was hinted at in the RPC's statement, and it was made clear by Jackson's daughter Santita Jackson.

Referring to her father, Santita Jackson said, "While the flesh may not be willing, the spirit is."

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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