Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. is one of America’s – the world’s – foremost civil rights, religious and political figures. Now the founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition has his sights set on a new title: the Johnny Appleseed of tech. He plans on planting 1,000 tech centers in 1,000 churches across the country to train black and Latino young people for jobs and futures in Silicon Valley and beyond.
Rev. Jackson calls the centers FaithTech Labs. He practices what he preachers. The Rainbow PUSH Coalition national headquarters in Chicago is stocked with two computer labs, robotics and coding classes
Blazing trails is nothing new for Rev Jackson. For more than 50 years, he has played a pivotal role in virtually every movement for empowerment, peace, human rights, gender equality, and economic and social justice. He has received more than 40 honorary doctorate degrees and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, was awarded to him by President Bill Clinton on Aug. 9, 2000.
Born in the segregated South in 1941, Rev. Jackson crisscrosses the country and the world in the name of peace and justice, tearing down walls and building bridges. He has negotiated the freedom of hundreds of Americans and other hostages held captive in foreign prisons from the Middle East to Europe to Africa. He took Fidel Castro to church for the first time in 20 years.
In recent years, Rev. Jackson has focused much of his passion, time and bottomless energy to bringing diversity to Silicon Valley, prying open heavily locked doors of opportunity to people of color from guard shacks to C-Suites.
He has been waging the fight for diversity and equality on Wall Street for 20 years. As the young, charismatic head of Operation Breadbasket, the economic arm of the civil rights movement in the 1960’s, Ebony Magazine dubbed him, the “Apostle of Economics.”
A two-time presidential candidate, Rev. Jackson has led massive voter registration drives across the South and protests for dispossessed farmers in Iowa and displaced factory workers in the Rust Belt. He was at the forefront of the long struggle to Free South Africa and Nelson Mandela.
A 1964 graduate of North Carolina A&T State University, he began his theological studies at Chicago Theological Seminary but deferred his studies when he began working full-time in the Civil Rights Movement with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
A hallmark of Rev. Jackson’s work has been his commitment to youth. He has visited thousands of high schools, colleges, universities and correctional facilities encouraging excellence, inspiring hope and challenging young people to study diligently and stay drug-free and whatever they do these days – to learn to code.
“At the end of the day, we must go forward with hope and not backward by fear and division.”
Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr.
African-American civil rights activist and politician