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Fighting For Equality: Jesse Jackson

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Fighting for Equality: Jesse Jackson

Jesse Jackson was born in 1941 in Greenville, South Carolina. Born to Helen Burns, an unwed teenaged mother - who was herself the child of an unwed teenaged mother; Jackson's childhood was marked by feelings of isolation and difference. He was teased for not having a father by school mates and neighbors. His biological father, married, Noah Robinson, was one of Greenville's most prosperous black citizens, while Jackson, along with his mother and grandmother, lived in relative poverty. His mother and grandmother were great support. Jackson took the name of his stepfather, Charles H. Jackson, a postal worker, upon being adopted by him in 1957. Jesse grew into a promising athlete and scholar during his high school years. Despite the material and emotional deprivations of Jackson's early life, one of his friends told biographer Marshall Frady, "Not only does Jesse believe in God, but Jesse believes God believes in him." Maybe that's what kept his head up. Jesse Jackson was born in 1941 in Greenville, South Carolina.

He graduated from Sterling High School and received a football scholarship to the University of Illinois. Shortly after he went there he transferred to North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro and became active in sit-ins with other students at the college. A sit-in is when a group of black people would sit down in a white-only restaurant or business, to protest being unable to eat or shop there. It was very common in the south at that time for Blacks to be kept out of many businesses like restaurants run by Whites.

1965 was a very important year for Jesse Jackson. He met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the famous Selma March, an effort to register black voters. He was made the leader of the Chicago branch of Operation Breadbasket, which was established by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1962. Operation Breadbasket was a civil rights group that tried to get more job opportunities for Blacks. He was very successful in leading that program, boycotting businesses that discriminated against Blacks, and forcing businesses to hire black workers. He was with Dr. King in Memphis, Tennessee when Dr. King was assassinated three years later.

In 1979, Jackson, like Dr. King before him, became interested in civil rights struggles around the world. He traveled to Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, and Syria. He met Egyptian President Answar Sadat, Syrian President Hafez al Assad, and Palestinian leader Yassar Arafat. Although he didn't accomplish much in getting Arab-Israeli peace, his personal friendship with Syrian leader Assad proved to be helpful later in the Mid-East peace process.

Jesse Jackson first ran for The Democratic Nomination in 1984. Although he didn't win



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