By Britt L
Now 72 years of age, Jesse Louis Jackson Sr. has been knee-deep in African-American civil rights and politics since our grandparents were alive. Once a presidential nomination candidate and shadow U.S. Senator for the District of Columbia, the Rainbow PUSH coalition founder has traveled all over the nation spreading awareness of black social and economical power to multiple ethic groups. The democratic liberal has been successful in almost every aspect of his political and social career, but there are a couple of key points in his life that many don’t know about. Here are a couple of facts about Jesse Jackson:
1. Jesse’s father was his mother’s 33-year-old married neighbor
In 1941, Jackson was born to 16-year-old high school student Helen Burns and her 33-year-old neighbor Noah Louis, whom was married at the time in Greenville, South Carolina.
2. He could have been a baseball star
Fresh out of high school in 1959, Jesse rejected a contract to play for a minor league professional baseball team. Instead, he went on to attend the University of Illinois-Urbana Champagne on a football scholarship.
3. Never finished graduate school
Upon earning his B.S. in sociology in 1964, Jesse was accepted into the Chicago Theological Seminary on a scholarship. More focused on the progression of the civil rights movement, he dropped out in 1966, only three classes away from earning his master’s degree.
4. Martin Luther King wasn’t a fan of Jackson’s “attention seeking”
While working for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965, King was impressed with Jackson’s organization and drive when appointed to a lead role in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). However, it was said that King was concerned about Jackson’s “attention-seeking” tactics and apparent ambition.
5. Jackson claimed the late Dr. King died in his arms following his assassination April 4, 1968
Although Jackson was in the parking lot one floor below the hotel’s balcony where King was shot, Jackson reported to several news outlets that he was the last person to have spoken to Dr. King. He also claimed King died in his arms. Several witnesses present at the time of the assassination disputed Jackson’s allegations.
6. Negative attitude toward Jews?
Jackson was criticized on several occasions during the 1980’s for indecent comments aimed towards the Jewish community. When religious leader Louis Farrakhan decided to support a Palestinian state, Jackson refused to partake in the correlation. He even made remarks to a reporter, labeling New York City as “Hymietown” (Hymie is a derogatory term for Jews.)
7. Against Abortion
After the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973, Jackson began a campaign against the decision, calling abortion murder. He even claimed that if abortion was legal in ancient times, Jesus and Moses wouldn’t have been born.
8. Wanted to “cut Obama’s nuts off”
After declaring his support for then-Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, Jackson was seen as the not so much helping hand. During an interview with Fox News on July 6, 2008, a microphone picked up some explicit comments made by Jackson in regards to the presidential candidate. “See, Barack’s been, ahh, talking down to black people on his faith-based…I want to cut his nuts off,” said Jackson in response to Obama’s take on the Jena 6 beating case. He later apologized and continued to reiterate his support for Obama.
9. He’s a minister
Jackson was ordained a baptist minister in 1968 and awarded his Master of Divinity Degree.