Oct. 8, 1941
Jesse Jackson Sr. was born in Greenville, South Carolina.
The star high school quarterback became student body president at North Carolina A & T University in Greensboro, and in 1962, he led his first civil rights march. When Martin Luther King Jr. called for others to join the Selma March, Jackson answered the call. He came to work with King, heading the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Operation Breadbasket in Chicago, using boycotts and selective buying campaigns to help bring contracts to black businesses and jobs to African Africans.
After King’s 1968 assassination, Jackson clashed with King’s successor, Ralph Abernathy, and left SCLC to start Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity).
In 1984, he ran for Democratic nomination for president, rousing crowds with his theme of “Keep Hope Alive.” He won more than a fifth of the vote, but that only translated to 8 percent of the delegates, losing to Walter Mondale.
In 1988, Jackson made another run, winning the states of South Carolina and Michigan, but he lost to Michael Dukakis. Despite fire from critics for what they called self-promotion, Jackson was voted “the most important black leader” in America in a 2006 poll.