Jesse Jackson

Civil Rights Movement

Jackson's Early Years

Jesse Louis Jackson was born in Greenville, South Carolina in 1941. As a young child, Jackson was taunted by the other children because his parents were not married when he was born. He said these experiences helped motivate him to succeed. Jesse Jackson grew up living under Jim Crow segregation laws. Jackson was taught to go to the back of the bus and use separate water fountains. He attended the racially segregated Sterling High School in Greenville, where he was elected student class president, finished tenth in his class, and had much success in baseball, football and basketball.

Jesse Jackson

Helping Dr. King

Jackson accepted a role from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. into the Southern Christian Leadership Conference where he organized and participated in marches. He marched in Selma, Alabama and Birmingham, Alabama. When King was shot, Jackson was in the parking lot one floor below. Jackson told reporters he was the last person to speak to King.

Jackson for President!


On November 3, 1983, he announced his campaign for President of the United States in the 1984 election, becoming the second African American (after Shirley Chisholm) to head a nationwide campaign for president. In 1984, he ran for president of the United States. HE DID NOT WIN. Before running for President, Jackson had served as president of Operation PUSH. PUSH's activities were described as conducting boycotts of business, and running programs for housing, social services and voter registration. Jackson tried again to run for President in 1988, but was unsuccessful.