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Jackson, Jesse Jr. 1965–

Jesse Jackson, Jr. 1965

Legislator

Excelled in School

Made Name for Himself

Announced His Run for Office

Stayed Positive During Campaign

Selected writings

Sources

Jesse Louis Jackson, Jr. is one of the youngest members of Congress and the oldest son of civil rights activist the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Smart, savvy, and ambitious, he won his seat in a special election on December 12, 1995, beating out party favorites by dint of sheer hard work and family charisma. He is acutely aware of his fathers international reputation, and, while fiercely proud of it, is equally determined to make his own mark on the world. When he was sworn in as the Representative for Illinoiss Second Congressional District, his father told the Boston Globe, Hes been preparing for this all his life.

On March 11, 1965, father and sonnow so close that they share an almost physical connectionbegan their life together hundreds of miles apart. Jesse Sr. had left the family home in Greenville, South Carolina, to join Martin Luther King, Jr. on his famous voting rights march to Selma, Alabama. While he was gone, his wife Jacqueline gave birth to their second child and first son. She named the boy after his father. Jesse, whom everyone from kin to constituents calls simply Junior, learned later that his father had wanted to call him Selma in honor of the historic events that had taken place during his birth and to spare him the difficulties of being his namesake.

Jackson and his older sister Santita were joined later by three more siblings: Jonathan, Yusef, and Jacqueline. Their parents ruled with iron hands and loving hearts: no friends after school, no prime-time television, no loud music. Around Jackies and Jesseshouse, there was no freedom of speech, Jackson recalled in the Chicago Tribune. There was discipline: speak when spoken to. Andwe are not wearing dentures today [because] we followed that principle. Jackson, apparently, needed all that and more. Willie Barrow, now one of his advisors and a former People United to Serve Humanity (PUSH) president, told the Chicago Tribune, We used to call him Fellow. He got the name because when he was a child, he was like a terrible little fellow. Musician Quincy Jones, a PUSH board member, seconded the opinion, telling Jesse, You were the baddest little kid I have ever seen.

Excelled in School

They were not joking. Tests soon showed that Jackson was hyperactive, aggressive, and very intelligent. His parents decided to send him and his brother Jonathan to Le Mans Academy, a private military school. I felt they needed a regimented form of discipline, said Mrs. Jackson in Chicago magazine. Their father, conscious of his constant presence in the media, wanted an environment free of my being on the radio and TV every day, but one that was close enough for them to be home for the holidays and give them some space for independent development.

Jackson flourished at Le Mans and went on to the elite St. Albans Episcopal prep school. There he proved himself to be both a good student and a gifted athlete. He became a leader of the debate team and earned a formidable reputation as a running back, gaining 1,000 yards and thirteen touchdowns during his final year.

Upon graduation from high school, Jackson received scholarship offers from such football powerhouses as

At a Glance

Born Jesse Louis Jackson, Jr. on March 11, 1965, in Greenville, SC; son of Jesse Louis (famous civil rights activist) and Jacqueline (Davis) Jackson (a homemaker); married Sandra Jackson, 1991; children: Jessica Donatella, Jesse L., III. Education: North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University, BS (magna cum laude), business management, 1987; Chicago Theological Seminary, MA, divinity, 1990; University of Illinois College of Law, JD, 1993. Politics: Democrat Religion: Baptist.

Career: Rainbow Coalition/Operation PUSH, national field director, 1993-95; Second congressional district J of Illinois, 104th Congress, congressman, 1995,

Memberships: House Appropriations Committee; Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education; Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs.

Addresses; Office 312 Cannon Building, Washington, DC 20515-1302.

the University of Michigan, Notre Dame, and the University of Southern California. He turned them all down, however, to attend his fathers alma mater, predominantly-black North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University, where he majored in business. Like his father before hima quarterbackhe played for the schools football team, but quit in his sophomore year to concentrate on academic pursuits.

Distance from home did not mean estrangement from his family. During the years that he was away from home to attend school, Jacksons parents continued to influence his life. As a teenager he traveled with his father when he negotiated several high-profile hostage-rescue situations. As he matured, he told the Christian Science Monitor, he realized that Dad wasnt someone I should just be casually comfortable with, but one I should also respect as a champion for social justice.

Despite his fathers enormous fame, Jackson never felt pressured to join his myriad social causes. He said his parents always encouraged him to choose his own path and make his own decisions. The family business obviously exerted a powerful influence on him, nonetheless. He finished his bachelors degree in three years, in part to work on his fathers presidential campaign. Immediately after the campaign ended, he entered graduate study at the Chicago Theological Seminary, the same school that had awarded Jesse Sr. his divinity degree. Still not content, he earned a JD degree at the University of Illinois, although he has never practiced law.

Made Name for Himself

While still in graduate school, Jesse and the other Jackson children were asked to introduce Jesse Sr. before his speech to the 1988 Democratic National Convention. Jesse, Jr. was the last to speak, and his words were so electrifying, reminisced his friend Rhoda McKinley in the Chicago Tribune, that he brought the house down. From this auspicious start he began a career in public speaking that continued through his years as a graduate student. Not surprisingly, Jackson kept one foot firmly in his fathers camp while honing his own considerable ambitions. During law school he frequently campaigned for his dad and other Democratic candidates as well as working the lecture circuit on his own, earning between $2,500 and $7,500 for each engagement. In 1994 alone, his appearance fees totaled almost $55,000, and by 1996, he had amassed approximately $515,000. I have been very prudent. I saved my money, he told the Chicago Tribune.

Jackson married his wife Sandra in 1991, four years after being introduced to her at a Congressional Black Caucus meeting. She worked for the Dukakis campaign and Congressman Cleo Fields but moved to Chicago after getting married to attend law school with her husband. Their relationship, she told Ebony magazine, is based on friendship: My husband is a true people person. And hes one of the most sincere people Ive ever met. Were great friends, and that has helped us through everything.

In 1993 Jackson became national field director for the Rainbow Coalition, a political action group founded by his father. He quickly restructured and modernized. He computerized many of the operations and trained staff to use the new equipment, established an Internet site, began a weekly faxed newsletter called JaxFax, and codified his reorganization in a 200-page manual. He also helped establish new local chapters of Operation PUSH and campaigned for congressional candidates John Conyers and Maxine Waters, both political allies of his father. The new job garnered him so many contacts that he was able to cover his office walls with photographs of himself with presidents, world leaders, and other politicians.

Despite his education, political connections, and demand as a public speaker, however, criticism began to swirl around Jackson. Some detractors claimed that his success depended entirely on his fathers success. In a Boston Globe interview, he shrugged, This is the only reality that I know. He admitted admiring his charismatic father, saying: I seek his advice, his counsel, his prayers, his wisdom.

Jackson began to consider a run for political office in 1994. He bought a house on Chicagos south side in the Second Congressional District. Jacksons relocation led the Chicago Tribune to speculate that he intended to challenge Reynolds, the districts representative in Congress. Quite willing to fan the flames, Jackson defended his qualifications for the post to the paper: My friends are in CongressRep. Cleo Fields. And Joe Kennedy, at 26, is a congressman from Rhode Island. He hasnt been on as many presidential campaigns and doesnt know as many people as I know. Jackson also pulled together a cadre of senior and influential political advisors, a caliber of help unavailable to most candidates considering a first-time run for office.

Announced His Run for Office

Reynolds lost his seat after he was convicted and jailed in connection with a scandalous relationship with a minor and financial transgressions. Jackson made his move, quitting his job at the Rainbow Coalition. He organized an emotional ceremony at the Salem Baptist Church on September 9, 1995. After more than an hour of buildup that included an introduction by his father, Jackson finally declared his candidacy. As quoted in the Chicago Tribune, he urged his listeners to transform our district and our nation by the renewal of our minds.

In the Democratic primary, Jackson faced the heavily favored state Senate leader Emil Jones, who had the support of the Chicago political machine behind him. Voters seemed willing to take a chance on Jacksons famous name, however, something he worked hard to foster. His use of computers and electronics allowed him to reach the target audience of 18-to 40-year-old voters, considered most likely to be receptive to his themes of A New Generation and economic improvement for the district. Co-campaign manager Frank Watkins told the Chicago Tribune, We ran a street campaignmeaning traditional methods of getting out and meeting the peoplebut we also ran an ultramodern technological campaign. The Jones camp reluctantly agreed. Its like running against a Kennedy in Massachusetts, complained an aide.

After his primary victory, Jacksons otherwise smooth operation hit a snag. The Chicago Tribune revealed that the last two years of his salary at the Rainbow Coalition had been paid by the Chicago-based Hotel and Restaurant Employees International Union. The scandal-plagued union was being investigated by the government for alleged links to organized crime. Jackson retorted that the payment was appropriate since part of his job at the coalition was to act as a union organizer: I organized at hotels, I organized at picket lines around this country, organized workers and fought to raise the minimum wage. When pressed for precise dates for such activities or even for the union presidents name, Jackson stood mute. He claimed ignorance of the unions alleged mob ties although such connections were well established and highly publicized. Even if the stories were true, he insisted, the money had allowed him to help working people, and that justified his acceptance of it.

Jackson also ruffled some feathers when he accepted support from a former gang member, Wallace Gator Bradley, an associate of convicted murderer Larry Hoover. The Jackson-headed Operation PUSH had advocated parol for Hoover in 1993, insisting to the Chicago Tribune that he was a model citizen. Hoover and others later were indicted for using a political group, 21st Century Voices of Total Empowerment (VOTE), to launder money from drug rings and other illegal businesses on the south side of Chicago. When questioned about this, Jackson said without equivocation that I denounce illegal gang activity, I denounce violence and illegal activity of any kind, but he refused to reject support from Bradley.

Stayed Positive During Campaign

The accusations did not seem to hurt his standing in the polls, however, and his support of issues popular with his heavily Democratic constituentsgovernment-sponsored health care, more federal money for education, strong support for affirmative action, and a third Chicago airport to bring jobs to the economically depressed areakept him in front. His well-endowed war chest, funded with donations from such celebrities as Johnnie Cochran, Bill Cosby, and New York mayor David Dinkins, was another major asset.

Jackson won a resounding victory in the December 12 general election with 76 percent of the vote. Celebrating his victory, he told the New York Times: We want the people to dream again. We want them to believe again. He told the Chicago Tribune that he hoped newspapers would one day run headlines announcing Motorola, Sears, Amoco, GE build plants on the South Side. On the national scale, he said, We have sought to challenge the Democratic Party and the nation since 1984 to honor Dr. [Martin Luther] Kings tradition, to be more inclusive, to fight for healthy conditions for workers and good benefits, to fight for racial justice and gender equity as the moral center.

Jackson was sworn in three days later by House Speaker Newt Gingrich, with his family in attendance. After the brief ceremony, he addressed other members of the House: I am honored to be a servant of this body, quoted the New York Times. Together we must make the American dream possible for all Americans. Ebony magazine quoted Jacksons wish to be a freedom fighter in the character and best tradition of Jesus Christ, of Martin Luther King, Jr., of Nelson Mandela, and my dad, Jesse Jackson Sr. He received a standing ovation. In accord with his wishes, Representatives John Conyers, Jr. of Michigan and Kweisi Mfume of Maryland lobbied for Jacksons presence on the influential Ways and Means Committeewhere most tax laws are draftedor the Transportation Committee. Jackson found himself instead on the Banking and Financial Services Committee.

Despite the less-than-prestigious committee seat, Jackson knew what he wanted to accomplish in Congress. He intended to remove Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House, claiming in USA Today, There is no greater priority. He also hoped to kick off a national initiative to register young voters, a tactic that many considered key to his own victory. In addition, he told the Chicago Tribune, Im trying to build an airport that will bring 236,000 jobs to our region. He also planned to defend challenges to court-drawn minority voting districts and opposed any decrease in the rate of Medicare and Medicaid spending.

Because he was elected only to finish the remainder of Reynoldss term, Jackson faced new primary and general election challenges very shortly after taking office. As expected, however, he easily won reelection. His successful campaigns as a political novice, albeit a well-connected one, earned him considerable respect. After less than a year in office, he had received 36 requests to make campaign appearances for fellow Democrats. Hes in unbelievable demand, Frank Watkins, now Jacksons communications director, told U.S. News and World Report.

Jackson knows that the shared name will always link him to his father, and he is not only comfortable with the notion, he takes pride in it. Its a name thats synonymous with public service, with helping people, and Ive always striven to live up to that commitment, he told the Boston Globe. But, he said, its also a double-edged sword. You inherit your fathers friends, your parents friends, and you inherit their detractors. Jackson intends to succeed on his own, however. Im having a study done, he told Chicago magazine. I want to know what the most successful freshmen have accomplished in their first term. So when the media says that Jesse Jackson Junior hasnt done anything, I can hold up this study and say, I bested the best.

Since entering politics, Jackson has worked hard to nurture good faith in his own name. In 1999 he introduced the HOPE for Africa Act to open the U.S. economy to African countries and nurture strong, fair trade relations between the countries. In addition to trade bills, Jackson introduced several bills over the years that have addressed disparities in healthcare, environmental degradation, responsible fatherhood, and an end to the death penalty, among other things. While concentrating on issues of equality, Jackson proposed bills to amend the constitution. Chief among his concerns were the right of Americans to vote, the right to education of equal quality and health care of equal quality. Jackson argued that leaving these issues within the purview of the states has created systems of widely varying quality. Popular among his constituents, Jacksons future in politics seemed to be just starting by the turn of the century.

Selected writings

Legal Lynching: Racism, Injustice, and the Death Penalty, Marlowe and Co., 1996.

(With Jesse Jackson, Sr.) Its About the Money!: The Fourth Movement of the Freedom Symphony, Times Business, 1999.

Legal Lynching: The Death Penalty and Americas Future, Norton, 2001.

(With Jesse Jackson, Sr, and Frank E. Watkins) A More Perfect Union: Advancing New American Rights, Welcome Rain, 2001.

Sources

Periodicals

Boston Globe, November 27, 1995, p. 4.

Chicago, May 1996, p. 58.

Chicago Sun-Times, April 2, 1997; May 6, 1997; February 11, 1999; January 20, 2000.

Chicago Tribune, September 10, 1995; October 31, 1996; November 10, 1995; November 19, 1995; November 25, 1995; November 29, 1995; November 30, 1995; December 1, 1995; December 13, 1995; December 14, 1995; May 12, 1997; August 12, 1999; November 7, 1999; August 3, 2003.

Christian Science Monitor, April 19, 1984; November 27, 1995; October 26, 1998.

Daily Egyptian, October 25, 1996 Ebony, February 1996, p. 154.

Los Angeles Times, December 12, 1995, p. A5.

Newsweek, September 8, 1997.

New York Times, November 24, 1995, p. A20; December 14, 1995, p B17; December 15, 1995, p A38; May 24, 1996, p. Bl; March 3, 1998.

People, October 30, 1995, p. 136; November 18, 1996.

Rocky Mountain News, October 28, 1996.

Salt Lake Tribune, December 15, 1995.

U.S. News and World Report, December 11, 1995, p. 32; October 7, 1996, p. 11.

USA Today, September 8, 1995, p. 2A; December 14, 1995, p. 4A; December 18, 1995, p. 11A; October 8, 1998.

Washington Post, February 24, 1999

On-line

Jesse Jackson, Jr., www.jessejacksonjr.org (June 4, 2004).

Tom and Sara Pendergast

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Jackson, Jesse Jr. 1965–

Jesse Jackson, Jr. 1965

Congressman

Childhood and Education

Early Work with His Father

Took Post at Rainbow Coalition

Began Campaign for House Seat

Won Election to Congress

Sources

Jesse Louis Jackson, Jr. is one of the youngest members of Congress and the oldest son of civil rights activist the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Smart, savvy, and ambitious, he won his seat in a special election on December 12, 1995, beating out party favorites by dint of sheer hard work and family charisma. He is acutely aware of his fathers international reputation, and, while fiercely proud of it, is equally determined to make his own mark on the world. When he was sworn in as the Representative for Illinoiss Second Congressional District, his father told the Boston Globe, Hes been preparing for this all his life.

Childhood and Education

On March 11, 1965, father and son-now so close that they share an almost physical connection--began their life together hundreds of miles apart. Jesse Sr. had left the family home in Greenville, South Carolina, to join Martin Luther King, Jr. on his famous voting rights march to Selma, Alabama. While he was gone, his wife Jacqueline gave birth to their second child and first son. She named the boy after his father. Jesse, whom everyone from kin to constituents calls simply Junior, learned later that his father had wanted to call him Selma in honor of the historic events that had taken place during his birth and to spare him the difficulties of being his name-sake.

Jackson and his older sister Santita were joined later by three more siblings: Jonathan, Yusef, and Jacqueline. Their parents ruled with iron hands and loving hearts: no friends after school, no prime-time television, no loud music. Around Jackies and Jesses house, there was no freedom of speech, Jackson recalled in the Chicago Tribune. There was discipline: speak when spoken to. And . . . we are not wearing dentures today [because] we followed that principle. Jackson, apparently, needed all that and more. Willie Barrow, now one of his advisors and a former People United to Serve Humanity (PUSH) president, told the Chicago Tribune, We used to call him Fellow. He got the name because when he was a child, he was like a terrible little fellow. Musician Quincy Jones, a PUSH board member, seconded the opinion, telling Jesse, You were the baddest little kid I have ever seen.

At a Glance

Born Jesse Louis Jackson, Jr., March 11, 1965, in Greenville, SC; son of Jesse Louis (famous civil rights activist) and Jacqueline (Davis) Jackson (a home-maker); married Sandra Jackson 1991. Education : North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University, B.S., magna cum laude, 1987; Chicago Theological Seminary, M.A., 1990; University of Illinois College of Law, J.D., 1993. Politics : Democrat. Religion : Baptist.

Field director for the Rainbow Coalition/Operation PUSH 1993-95; elected to represent the second congressional district of Illinois in the 104th Congress on December 12, 1995; appointed to the committee on banking and financial services; won reelection in general election, 1996.

Addresses: Home 17926 S. Halsted, Homewood, IL 60430. Office 312 Cannon Building, Washington, D.C. 20515-1302.

They were not joking. Tests soon showed that Jackson was hyperactive, aggressive, and very intelligent. His parents decided to send him and his brother Jonathan to Le Mans Academy, a private military school. I felt they needed a regimented form of discipline, said Mrs. Jackson in Chicago magazine. Their father, conscious of his constant presence in the media, wanted an environment free of my being on the radio and TV every day, but one that was close enough for them to be home for the holidays and give them some space for independent development.

Jackson flourished at Le Mans and went on to the elite St. Albans Episcopal prep school. There he proved himself to be both a good student and a gifted athlete. He became a leader of the debate team and earned a formidable reputation as a running back, gaining 1,000 yards and thirteen touchdowns during his final year.

Upon graduation from high school, Jackson received scholarship offers from such football powerhouses as the University of Michigan, Notre Dame, and the University of Southern California. He turned them all down, however, to attend his fathers alma mater, predominantly-black North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University, where he majored in business. Like his father before him--a quarterback--he played for the schools football team, but quit in his sophomore year to concentrate on academic pursuits.

Early Work with His Father

Distance from home did not mean estrangement from his family. During the years that he was away from home to attend school, Jacksons parents continued to influence his life. As a teenager he traveled with his father when he negotiated several high-profile hostage-rescue situations. As he matured, he told the Christian Science Monitor, he realized that Dad wasn t someone I should just be casually comfortable with, but one I should also respect as a champion for social justice.

Despite his fathers enormous fame, Jackson never felt pressured to join his myriad social causes. He said his parents always encouraged him to choose his own path and make his own decisions. The family business obviously exerted a powerful influence on him, nonetheless. He finished his bachelors degree in three years, in part to work on his fathers presidential campaign. Immediately after the campaign ended, he entered graduate study at the Chicago Theological Seminary, the same school that had awarded Jesse Sr. his divinity degree. Still not content, he earned a J.D. degree at the University of Illinois, although he has never practiced law.

While still in graduate school, Jesse and the other Jackson children were asked to introduce Jesse Sr. before his speech to the 1988 Democratic National Convention. Jesse, Jr. was the last to speak, and his words were so electrifying, reminisced his friend Rhoda McKinley in the Chicago Tribune, that he brought the house down. From this auspicious start he began a career in public speaking that continued through his years as a graduate student. Not surprisingly, Jackson kept one foot firmly in his fathers camp while honing his own considerable ambitions. During law school he frequently campaigned for his dad and other Democratic candidates as well as working the lecture circuit on his own, earning between $2,500 and $7,500 for each engagement. In 1994 alone, his appearance fees totaled almost $55,000, and by 1996, he had amassed approximately $515,000. I have been very prudent. I saved my money, he told the Chicago Tribune.

Jackson married his wife Sandra in 1991, four years after being introduced to her at a Congressional Black Caucus meeting. She worked for the Dukakis campaign and Congressman Cleo Fields but moved to Chicago after getting married to attend law school with her husband. Their relationship, she told Ebony magazine, is based on friendship: My husband is a true people person. And hes one of the most sincere people I ve ever met. We re great friends, and that has helped us through everything.

Took Post at Rainbow Coalition

In 1993 Jackson became national field director for the Rainbow Coalition, a political action group founded by his father. He quickly restructured and modernized. He computerized many of the operations and trained staff to use the new equipment, established an Internet site, began a weekly faxed newsletter called JaxFax, and codified his reorganization in a 200-page manual. He also helped establish new local chapters of Operation PUSH and campaigned for congressional candidates John Conyers and Maxine Waters, both political allies of his father. The new job garnered him so many contacts that he was able to cover his office walls with photographs of himself with presidents, world leaders, and other politicians.

Despite his education, political connections, and demand as a public speaker, however, criticism began to swirl around Jackson. Some detractors claimed that his success depended entirely on his fathers success. In a Boston Globe interview, he shrugged, This is the only reality that I know. He admitted admiring his charismatic father, saying: I seek his advice, his counsel, his prayers, his wisdom.

Jackson began to consider a run for political office in 1994. He bought a house on Chicagos south side in the Second Congressional District. Jacksons relocation led the Chicago Tribune to speculate that he intended to challenge Reynolds, the districts representative in Congress. Quite willing to fan the flames, Jackson defended his qualifications for the post to the paper: My friends are in Congress--Rep. Cleo Fields. And Joe Kennedy, at 26, is a congressman from Rhode Island. He hasn t been on as many presidential campaigns and doesn t know as many people as I know. Jackson also pulled together a cadre of senior and influential political advisors--a caliber of help unavailable to most candidates considering a first-time run for office.

Began Campaign for House Seat

Reynolds lost his seat after he was convicted and jailed in connection with a scandalous relationship with a minor and financial transgressions. Jackson made his move, quitting his job at the Rainbow Coalition. He organized an emotional ceremony at the Salem Baptist Church on September 9, 1995. After more than an hour of buildup that included an introduction by his father, Jackson finally declared his candidacy. As quoted in the Chicago Tribune, he urged his listeners to transform our district and our nation by the renewal of our minds.

In the Democratic primary, Jackson faced the heavily-favored state Senate leader Emil Jones, who had the support of the Chicago political machine behind him. Voters seemed willing to take a chance on Jacksons famous name, however, something he worked hard to foster. His use of computers and electronics allowed him to reach the target audience of 18- to 40-year-old voters, considered most likely to be receptive to his themes of A New Generation and economic improvement for the district. Co-campaign manager Frank Watkins told the Chicago Tribune, We ran a street campaign--meaning traditional methods of getting out and meeting the people--but we also ran an ultramodern technological campaign. The Jones camp reluctantly agreed. Its like running against a Kennedy in Massachusetts, complained an aide.

After his primary victory, Jacksons otherwise smooth operation hit a snag. The Chicago Tribune revealed that the last two years of his salary at the Rainbow Coalition had been paid by the Chicago-based Hotel and Restaurant Employees International Union. The scandal-plagued union was being investigated by the government for alleged links to organized crime. Jackson retorted that the payment was appropriate since part of his job at the coalition was to act as a union organizer: I organized at hotels, I organized at picket lines around this country, organized workers and fought to raise the minimum wage. When pressed for precise dates for such activities or even for the union presidents name, Jackson stood mute. He claimed ignorance of the unions alleged mob ties although such connections were well established and highly publicized. Even if the stories were true, he insisted, the money had allowed him to help working people, and that justified his acceptance of it.

Jackson also ruffled some feathers when he accepted support from a former gang member, Wallace Gator Bradley, an associate of convicted murderer Larry Hoover. The Jackson-headed Operation PUSH had advocated parol for Hoover in 1993, insisting to the Chicago Tribune that he was a model citizen. Hoover and others later were indicted for using a political group, 21st Century Voices of Total Empowerment (VOTE), to launder money from drug rings and other illegal businesses on the south side of Chicago. When questioned about this, Jackson said without equivocation that I denounce illegal gang activity, I denounce violence and illegal activity of any kind, but he refused to reject support from Bradley.

The accusations did not seem to hurt his standing in the polls, however, and his support of issues popular with his heavily Democratic constituents--government-sponsored health care, more federal money for education, strong support for affirmative action, and a third Chicago airport to bring jobs to the economically depressed area--kept him in front. His well-endowed war chest, funded with donations from such celebrities as Johnnie Cochran, Bill Cosby, and New York mayor David Dinkins, was another major asset.

Won Election to Congress

Jackson won a resounding victory in the December 12 general election with 76 percent of the vote. Celebrating his victory, he told the New York Times : We want the people to dream again. We want them to believe again. He told the Chicago Tribune that he hoped newspapers would one day run headlines announcing Motorola, Sears, Amoco, GE build plants on the South Side. On the national scale, he said, We have sought to challenge the Democratic Party and the nation since 1984 to honor Dr. [Martin Luther] Kings tradition, to be more inclusive, to fight for healthy conditions for workers and good benefits, to fight for racial justice and gender equity as the moral center.

Jackson was sworn in three days later by House Speaker Newt Gingrich, with his family in attendance. After the brief ceremony, he addressed other members of the House: I am honored to be a servant of this body, quoted the New York Times. Together we must make the American dream possible for all Americans. Ebony magazine quoted Jacksons wish to be a freedom fighter in the character and best tradition of Jesus Christ, of Martin Luther King, Jr., of Nelson Mandela, and my dad, Jesse Jackson Sr. He received a standing ovation. In accord with his wishes, Representatives John Conyers, Jr. of Michigan and Kweisi Mfume of Maryland lobbied for Jacksons presence on the influential Ways and Means Committee--where most tax laws are drafted--or the Transportation Committee. Jackson found himself instead on the Banking and Financial Services Committee.

Despite the less-than-prestigious committee seat, Jackson knew what he wanted to accomplish in Congress. He intended to remove Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House, claiming in USA Today, There is no greater priority. He also hoped to kick off a national initiative to register young voters, a tactic that many considered key to his own victory. In addition, he told the Chicago Tribune, I m trying to build an airport that will bring 236,000 jobs to our region. He also planned to defend challenges to court-drawn minority voting districts and opposed any decrease in the rate of Medicare and Medicaid spending.

Because he was elected only to finish the remainder of Reynoldss term, Jackson faced new primary and general election challenges very shortly after taking office. As expected, however, he easily won reelection. His successful campaigns as a political novice, albeit a well-connected one, earned him considerable respect. After less than a year in office, he had received 36 requests to make campaign appearances for fellow Democrats. Hes in unbelievable demand, Frank Watkins, now Jacksons communications director, told US News and World Report.

Jackson knows that the shared name will always link him to his father, and he is not only comfortable with the notion, he takes pride in it. Its a name thats synonymous with public service, with helping people, and I ve always striven to live up to that commitment, he told the Boston Globe. But, he said, its also a double-edged sword. You inherit your fathers friends, your parents friends, and you inherit their detractors. Jackson intends to succeed on his own, however. I m having a study done, he told Chicago magazine. I want to know what the most successful freshmen have accomplished in their first term. So when the media says that Jesse Jackson Junior hasn t done anything, I can hold up this study and say, I bested the best.

Sources

Periodicals

Boston Globe, November 27, 1995, p. 4.

Chicago, May 1996, p. 58.

Chicago Tribune, September 10, 1995; October 31, 1996; November 10, 1995; November 19, 1995; November 25, 1995; November 29, 1995; November 30, 1995; December 1, 1995; December 13, 1995; December 14, 1995.

Christian Science Monitor, April 19, 1984; November 27, 1995.

Daily Egyptian, October 25, 1996

Ebony, February 1996, p. 154.

Los Angeles Times, December 12, 1995, p. A5.

New York Times, November 24, 1995, p. A20; December 14, 1995, p B17; December 15, 1995, p A38; May 24, 1996, p. B1.

People, October 30, 1995, p. 136; November 18, 1996.

Rocky Mountain News, October 28, 1996.

Salt Lake Tribune, December 15, 1995.

U.S. News and World Report, December 11, 1995, p. 32; October 7, 1996, p. 11.

USA Today, September 8, 1995, p. 2A; December 14, 1995, p. 4A; December 18, 1995, p. 11A.

Amy Loerch Strumolo

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"Jackson, Jesse Jr. 1965–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 11 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Jackson, Jesse Jr. 1965–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 11, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/jackson-jesse-jr-1965

"Jackson, Jesse Jr. 1965–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved December 11, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/jackson-jesse-jr-1965