Black History Month: February 2014

To recall and celebrate the positive contributions to our nation made by people of African descent, American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week beginning on Feb. 12, 1926. In 1976, as part of the nation's bicentennial, the week was expanded into Black History Month.


Reverend Jesse Jackson

Reverend Jesse Jackson has been a spokesman for oppressed people and a leader within the African American community for many years. Jackson began his career as a civil rights activist in 1965 and eventually became Dr. Martin Luther King's assistant as a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). After King's assassination, Jackson went on to start the human rights organization Operation Push in 1971, which would eventually become the Rainbow Coalition. Jackson became the first African-American to make a serious bid for the United States presidency in 1984 and he also ran again in 1988. In 1999, during the conflict in Kosovo he was instrumental in negotiating the release of three American POWs. Jackson continues his work as an ambassador of peace today.


  • Political activist, diplomat, minister
  • Born: October 8, 1941 in Greenville, South Carolina
  • Became an ordained Baptist minister in 1968
  • Attended Chicago Theological Seminary before joining civil rights movement.
  • Found out at the age of six that his dad, Charles Jackson, wasn't his biological father.
  • Attended the University of Illinois on a football scholarship before transferring to North Carolina A&T.
  • Founded Operation PUSH ((People United To Save Humanity) in Chicago in 1971.
  • Founded the National Rainbow Coalition in 1986.
  • Authored two books Keep Hope Alive and Straight from the Heart.
  • Admitted to having fathered the daughter of a woman with whom he had an extramarital affair in 2001.
  • Had a favorable song written about him, "Jesse Jackson," by Kris Kristofferson, recorded on the 1976 album Third World Warrior.
  • Is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
  • Married to Jacqueline Lavinia Brown. They have five children: Santita Jackson, Jesse Louis Jackson Jr. (currently a congressman from Illinois), Jonathan Jackson, Yusef DuBois Jackson, and Jacqueline Lavinia Jackson.
  • In 2000, President Clinton awarded Jackson the Presidential Medal of Freedom. That same year he received a Master of Divinity degree from the Chicago Theological.
  • In 2008, Jackson accused then Senator Barack Obama of "talking down to black people" during his campaign for the U.S. presidency. He later apologized for the remarks.


  • Jackson on justice: "A man must be willing to die for justice. Death is an inescapable reality and men die daily, but good deeds live forever."
  • Jackson on America: "America is not like a blanket-one piece of unbroken cloth, the same color, the same texture, the same size. America is more like a quilt-many patches, many pieces, many colors, many sizes, all woven and held together by a common thread."
  • Jackson on tears: "Both tears and sweat are salty, but they render a different result. Tears will get you sympathy; sweat will get you change."
  • Jackson on capital punishment and prison: "Capital punishment turns the state into a murderer. But imprisonment turns the state into a gay dungeon-master."
  • Jackson on democracy: "Deliberation and debate is the way you stir the soul of our democracy."
  • Jackson on Martin Luther King Jr: "From seeds of his body blossomed the flower that liberated a people and touched the soul of a nation."
  • Jackson on George Bush: "George Bush has met more foreign heads of state than I have. But a substantial number of them were dead."
  • Jackson on himself: "I am not a perfect servant. I am a public servant doing my best against the odds. As I develop and serve, be patient. God is not finished with me yet."
  • On poverty: “We must now fight to make poverty illegal,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson said in an interview with The Blade last week. “The reason why you have such a radical gap between wealth and poverty [is] we stepped away from the war on poverty and extended the subsidy to the wealthy."