The Rev. Jesse Jackson, one of America’s foremost civil rights, religious and political figures, will speak on the Furman University campus Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. in McAlister Auditorium.
Jackson’s talk, “Keeping Hope Alive: Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement,” is free and open to the public. His talk will be followed by a question-and-answer session.
Jackson’s appearance, which is part of Greenville’s “Year of Altruism” celebration, is sponsored by Furman’s History Department, the A.J. Head Fund of the Endowed Lectures Committee, the Humanities Development Fund Committee and the Student League for Black Culture.
Jackson, who was born and raised in Greenville, has spent more than 40 years deeply involved in movements for empowerment, peace, civil rights, gender equality, and economic and social justice. He made two historic presidential runs in the 1980s, and, in 2000, President Bill Clinton awarded him the presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Jackson currently serves as president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, a progressive international organization he founded that advocates for peace and justice around the world.
Jackson attended racially segregated Sterling High School in Greenville, where he was elected student class president and earned letters in baseball, football and basketball. He was also actively involved in the civil rights movement in Greenville while a student, helping to integrate the local public library.
Jackson attended the University of Illinois for one year on a football scholarship before transferring to North Carolina A & T State University in Greensboro, where he was involved in the town’s civil rights demonstrations and received a degree in sociology.
In 1965, Jackson became a full-time organizer for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and was appointed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to direct the Operation Breadbasket program. Jackson founded Operation PUSH in 1971 and the National Rainbow Coalition in 1984. The two organizations merged in 1996 to become the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.
Jackson made presidential runs in 1984 and again in 1988. In the 1984 campaign, he placed third in the Democratic primary voting and garnered a total of 3.5 million votes. His 1988 campaign registered over two million new voters and helped boost hundreds of state and local elected officials into office.
In addition to meetings with world leaders, Jackson has received more than 40 honorary doctorate degrees and has lectured at numerous colleges and universities, including Howard, Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Columbia and Stanford. A noted author, Jackson’s books include Keep Hope Alive (1989) and Straight From the Heart (Fortress Press, 1987).
For more information, contact Furman’s News and Media Relations office at 864-294-3107.