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Main > Politics & Religion > Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr.

Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr. (born October 8, 1941) is an American civil rights activist and Baptist minister. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served as "shadow senator" for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997. He was the founder of both entities that merged to form Rainbow/PUSH. Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. is his eldest son.

While Jackson was initially critical of the "Third Way" or more moderate policies of Bill Clinton, he became a key ally in gaining African American support for Clinton and eventually became a close advisor and friend of the Clinton family.

In January 2001, Jackson decided to withdraw temporarily from public life following revelations of an extra-marital affair with a staffer that resulted in the birth of a daughter. He reemerged on the political scene in 2004 following the voting debacle that plagued the presidential election. He called for a congressional debate on the matter, asking for a fair count and national voting standards. His son, Jesse Jackson, Jr., has also emerged as a political figure, becoming a member of the House of Representatives from Illinois.

As controversial as he was charismatic, Jackson continued to be named whenever there was talk of the need for a new African-American leader (whether a mayor of Chicago or the first senator of Washington, DC, if it became a state), and if this very omnipresence also suggested he might be diluting his energies and abilities, he undoubtedly remained one of the more striking figures in American public life in the late 20th century.

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