Born into a poor family, Jackson attended the University of Illinois (1959?60) on a scholarship and then transferred to the predominantly black Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina (Greensboro), receiving a B.A. in sociology (1964). He moved to Chicago in 1966, did postgraduate work at the Chicago Theological Seminary, and was ordained a Baptist minister in 1968.
While an undergraduate, Jackson became involved in the black Civil Rights Movement . In 1965 he went to Selma, Alabama, to march with Martin Luther King, Jr., and became a worker in King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). In 1966 he helped found the Chicago branch of Operation Breadbasket, the economic arm of the SCLC, and served as the organization’s national director from 1967 to 1971. In 1971 he founded Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity), a Chicago-based organization in which he advocated black self-help and achieved a broad audience for his liberal views. He gained international attention by traveling widely and trying to mediate or spotlight a number of international problems and disputes.
Jackson became a leading spokesman and advocate for black Americans in the 1980s. His voter-registration drive was a key factor in the election of Chicago’s first black mayor, Harold Washington, in April 1983. In 1989 Jackson took residency in Washington, D.C., and in 1990, when the Washington City Council created two unpaid offices of ?statehood senator??popularly called ?shadow senator??to lobby the U.S. Congress for statehood for the District of Columbia, Jackson won election to one of the posts, his first elective office.
In 2001 it was revealed that Jackson had fathered an out-of-wedlock child with a staff member. The scandal was made even more controversial because the relationship occurred during the same time that Jackson was counseling President Bill Clinton about his marital infidelity with Monica Lewinsky. Allegations of financial irregularities that were made beginning in the late 1990s also raised questions about Jackson’s work and credibility.
“Jackson, Jesse” Encyclopædia Britannica
Recipient of the Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart Award from Sri Chinmoy: The Peace Meditation at the United Nations