This weekend at Rainbow PUSH Coalition’s annual convention, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson was given his flowers and honored with a well-deserved tribute after a panel of Jackson’s former presidential campaign leaders proudly shared stories from the trail.
The 35th anniversary of Rev. Jackson’s two time-presidential candidacy was held at Rainbow PUSH headquarters, the civil rights organization he founded in 1971.
It was a fitting tribute to the pioneering civil rights activist, who will step away from his role as Rainbow PUSH president and transition to emeritus status. Rainbow PUSH formally announced Rev. Dr. Frederick Haynes III as Jackson’s successor on Sunday.
Many paid homage to Rev. Jesse L. Jackson and his legacy, including Carol Moseley Braun, Rae Lewis Thornton, and video tributes from Alexis Herman, Otis Moss, Jr., Judge Greg Mathis and other Black politicians and activists. His daughter Santita Jackson commemorated the occasion with an acapella rendition of Whitney Houston’s “Children Are Our Future.”
A video montage from Rev. Jackson’s 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns was shown.
For nearly 60 years, Rev. Jackson has led the coalition, which has had a global impact. At the convention, one of his supporters stated that Jackson was “a citizen of the world.”
Many stories were shared about the campaigns.
Robert “Bob” Borosage, former director of Rev. Jackson’s 1988 campaign, recalled a memory of the team traveling to Selma, Alabama. Mayor Joe T. Smitherman greeted them back in 1965 when Jackson’s civil rights activism began with the march from Selma to Montgomery as a teen.
“Only this time, in 1988, instead of calling out the dogs for Jackson, the Mayor gave Rev. Jackson the key to the city,” said Borosage. The crowd let out a roaring round of applause.
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson stopped by the event to pay homage to Rev. Jesse Jackson for his incredible accomplishments and career and for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, which he said has brought the country together.
Mayor Johnson said that Rev. Jackson was larger than life.
“When our city was in a very tumultuous time when many people began to turn their backs on working people and the labor movement, Rev. Jackson opened up Saturday mornings for teachers and workers across the world to hear and tell our stories,” he said.
“All of that is the result of your work and you giving a young organizer the benefit of the doubt and allowing me to have space on Saturday mornings. Now, the entire city of Chicago is benefiting from the space you created for me. Make no mistake about it, I’m on the 5th floor because of Rev Jackson and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition,” Mayor Johnson proclaimed.
Mayor Johnson said that we are still breaking barriers because of Rev. Jackson’s work.
“We have our first black woman serving as Vice President, Kamala Harris, and we have four black mayors leading the largest cities in the United States.”
Thirty-five years later, Johnson stated that we still stand on Jackson’s presidential run from 84’ and ‘88.
Rev. Jackson’s decision to step away from Rainbow PUSH as president into his new role as emeritus was no easy decision.
The transfer of leadership from Rev. Jackson to Rev. Haynes III took place on Sunday, July 15, 2023, while Vice President Kamala Harris was present at the Apostolic Church of God on Chicago’s South Side.
Rev. Jackson plans to continue to fight the fight while elevating his life’s work and teaching ministers about the social justice movement.