Reverend Jesse L. Jackson Sr. Essay

1215 words - 5 pages

There have been many African Americans who have been prominent in the history of this nation. Many of them are remembered for how they stood up against oppression and helped to gain equality for all people. One of these people is Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, an ordained Baptist minister and also a crusader for rights of African Americans. Jesse Jackson has spent his life fighting for equality in the United States and has become an important political figure because of it. The life time, achievements, activism, and even controversies of Jesse Jackson are some of the reasons he is viewed as such an important person today.
Jesse Jackson had a hard but ultimately successful early life. He was born on October 8, 1941 to Helen Burns and her married neighbor, Noah Robinson. Jesse was taunted as a child for being "a nobody who had no daddy” ( While Jesse was originally named Jesse Louis Burns, at age fifteen he took on the name of his stepfather, Charles Jackson, who had adopted him earlier. Jesse attended Sterling High School in South Carolina, where he “was elected president of his class, the honor society, and the student council, was named state officer of the Future Teachers of America, finished tenth in his class, and lettered in football, basketball, and baseball (Ryan, Jesse’s athletic success in high school earned him a football scholarship to the University of Illinois, which he left South Carolina to attend in 1959. Then, during his freshmen year there, Jesse became displeased with football and the way he was treated on campus, and transferred to the “predominantly black Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina in Greensboro and received a B.A. in sociology in 1964” (Encyclopædia Britannica Online). Jesse then attended the Chicago Theological Seminary and was ordained a Baptist minister in 1968.
Jesse’s work mainly focused on civil rights activism, and his work has affected many people over the years. Jesse’s first involvement in the civil rights movement came when he joined the Council of Racial Equality while he was a student at North Carolina A and T. There, Jesse “organized numerous marches, sit-ins, and mass arrests to press for the desegregation of local restaurants and theaters” (Ryan, These actions earned Jesse a lot of recognition in the civil rights movement. Later in 1965, Jesse began to work in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which was led by Martin Luther King Jr. Jesse became a prominent member of the organization, and even “helped found the Chicago branch of Operation Breadbasket, the economic arm of the SCLC, in 1966 and served as the organization’s national director from 1967 to 1971” (Encyclopædia Britannica Online). Jesse was present in Memphis on the tragic day when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, and then appeared on television the next day with blood on his shirt, which “brought the horror of the assassination into...

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