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Jackson, Jesse (b. 1941)

Yusuf Nuruddin


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Born on October 4, 1941, Jesse Jackson was a leading US civil rights activist and leader, human rights sponsor, international mediator, and populist presidential candidate from the 1960s to the early twenty-first century. Jackson, a controversial and charismatic figure, rose from humble origins to become the most influential African American civil rights leader in the post-Martin Luther King era. Jesse Louis Jackson was born Jesse Louis Burns in Greensville, South Carolina, to Helen Burns, a 16-year-old impoverished, unwed mother. His biological father, Noah Robinson, was Burns's next-door neighbor, a married middle-class black man. His mother later married Charles Jackson, who eventually legally adopted Jesse, but he was actually raised by his maternal grandmother. Jackson initially attended the University of Illinois on a football scholarship (1959) but transferred the following year to North Carolina A&T, where he met his future wife, Jacqueline, whose enthusiastic talk of Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution unnerved the somewhat conservative Jackson. She would challenge Jackson's political beliefs throughout their courtship and married life, constantly radicalizing him, pushing him in later life, for example, to meet with PLO representative Yasser Arafat and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Other motivating influences in his life included the college classmates ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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