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Jesse Jackson (1941-)

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Jesse Jackson seated at a table, July 1983.

The great-grandson of slaves, South Carolina native Jesse Jackson became involved in sit-ins while in college and joined the SCLC in 1965. In 1966, Martin Luther King, Jr. took the civil rights movement north with a campaign dubbed the Chicago Freedom Movement. It aimed to raise awareness of northern ghettos and end housing discrimination. Jackson led activists in Chicago, heading Operation Breadbasket, which organized boycotts of businesses that discriminated against African Americans. Jackson was ordained as a Baptist minister in 1968, and he left the SCLC and formed his own economic justice organization, Operation PUSH, in 1971. He helped register voters during the campaign that saw Harold Washington elected Chicago's first African American mayor in 1983. Jackson ran for president in 1984 and 1988 as head of the Rainbow Coalition, receiving millions of votes in the Democratic primaries.

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