Reverend Jesse Jackson (1982) | For The People

Produced and hosted by Listervelt Middleton, For the People delivered African American history and culture every week to South Carolina ETV's viewers. 

This program was recorded in 1982. Please do not call the number displayed. Thank you!

Reverend Jesse Jackson served as the “point man” in the Greensboro sit-ins. He quickly gained notoriety by rallying Chicago's Black clergymen behind Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Jackson would go on to become a close friend and advisor to Dr. King. In 1971, Reverend Jesse Jackson founded Operation PUSH which stands for people united to save humanity. He served as president of this national organization since its formation and during the time of the interview. 

Reverend Jesse Jackson said, "the major focus of Operation PUSH in recent years would be economic development and political empowerment." Jackson stated that one of Operation PUSH's major accomplishments is getting the Voting Rights Act extended.

Later in the interview, Listervelt Middleton allowed viewers to call into the show to ask Reverend Jesse Jackson questions. During this part of the interview, Jackson answered many questions. Jesse Jackson recounted the fact that 7 out of 10 Black people who were eligible to vote in Greenville County had not been registered. Reverend Jesse Jackson also makes a point that it is a necessity for people to get an education. Middleton hints at the thought of Reverend Jesse Jackson potentially running for President of the United States. Jackson responded that it was not out of the question.

At the conclusion of this interview, Rev. Jesse Jackson encouraged viewers to get involved with Operation PUSH. This interview remains relevant over forty years later, around the country as many qualified people remain unregistered to vote.

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Side Notes

Reverend Jesse Jackson was born on October 8, 1941, in Greenville, South Carolina. Jackson attended the University of Illinois on a football scholarship from 1959 to 1960, later transferring to the Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina in Greensboro where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology. In 1966, Jackson began studies at the Chicago Theological Seminary, he was ordained a Baptist minister in 1968. 

After controversy in 1971, Jackson resigned from his position as national director within the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Operation Breadbasket. Jackson held this position from 1967 until his resignation, working closely with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Following his resignation, Jackson founded Operation PUSH in 1971 and the National Rainbow Coalition in 1984. The two organizations merged in 1996, which formed the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Since Jackson has done work around the world for civil rights, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2000. 

Reverend Jesse Jackson eventually ran for President twice, with his 1984 campaign registering over one million new voters.

Jesse Jackson stepped down as President of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition after more than five decades. Rainbow PUSH Coalition is still currently in operation. 

Today, Reverend Jesse Jackson is 82 years old.