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Biography Jesse Jackson

> United States of America > Politicians > Democratic Party (United States) > Jesse Jackson, Jr.
Jesse Jackson Jesse Jackson
Jesse Jackson
US politician - represented Illinois's 2nd congressional district until his resignation in 2012.


Jesse Jackson Biography

ENG: Jesse Louis Jackson, Jr. (born March 11, 1965) is an American politician who represented Illinois's 2nd congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives until his resignation in 2012. He is a member of the Democratic Party. Jackson was first elected in a special election in 1995. His district included the part of the Southland southeast suburbs of Chicago and part of the Chicago South Side. He is the son of activist and former presidential candidate Jesse Jackson. His wife, Sandi Jackson, serves on the Chicago City Council. He served as a national co-chairman of the 2008 Barack Obama presidential campaign.

Prior to elective politics Jackson was active in international civil rights activism. He participated in his father's presidential campaigns and then in the office of his Rainbow Coalition. During his time in public office he co-authored three books, two of them with his father. Jackson has a consistent liberal record on both social and fiscal issues. He has been a very active Democratic spokesperson for other Democratic candidates and a popular interviewee and broadcast media guest.

It was announced October 12, 2012 that federal prosecutors and FBI agents in Washington, D.C. have launched a new criminal investigation of Jackson involving alleged financial improprieties, including possible misuse of funds monitored by Congress. Jackson resigned from Congress on November 21, 2012, citing mental and physical health problems, including bipolar disorder, clinical depression, and gastrointestinal problems. However, he has also acknowledged that he is under two separate and distinct investigations by the House Ethics Committee and the FBI.


Early life

Jackson was born in Greenville, South Carolina four days after the Selma to Montgomery marches (known as Bloody Sunday). Raised in the Jackson Park Highlands District of the South Shore community area on the South Side of Chicago, he is one of five children of Jesse and Jacqueline Jackson: Santita is the oldest; Jesse Jr. is two years younger; Jonathan follows him by one year; Yusef and Jacqueline are five and ten years younger than Jonathan. He attended nursery school at the University of Chicago and, like all of his siblings, attended the John J. Pershing Public Elementary School. One of the earliest memories of Jesse, Jr. for Chicagoans was a speech he gave at age five from a milk crate at the Operation PUSH headquarters. He says that he was reared more by his mother, Jacqueline, although his father gave him lots of advice through the years. His father sought media attention to shed light on important issues according to some accounts and as a result of his father's travels, his time with his father often occurred in the time between meetings.

He and his brother Jonathan were sent to Le Mans Military Academy in Rolling Prairie, Indiana after Jackson was diagnosed hyperactive. He was often paddled for disciplinary reasons during his time as a cadet. Jacqueline wanted both boys to go to St. Albans in Washington, D.C. to spend more time with their father who was very active in that city. Although Jonathan decided to attend Whitney Young High School, a magnet school in Chicago, Jackson moved to Washington. Biographical content in A More Perfect Union: Advancing New American Rights explains that the four-year foreign language requirement at St. Albans necessitated Jackson repeating the ninth grade and that he was suspended from school twice. According to younger brother Yusef, Jesse was responsible for changing several rules at the St. Albans dorms. He was an all-state running back on his football team in high school and his play got him into the February 13, 1984 issue of Sports Illustrated as part of their Faces In The Crowd section, which noted him for his 15 touchdowns, 889 rushing yards, and 7.2 yards per carry in six games. This issue is notable as the 1984 Swimsuit Issue. Then Jackson followed in his father's footsteps by attending North Carolina A&T where his father had been quarterback, class president and the successful suitor of Jacqueline. He took classes every summer, and he earned his Bachelor of Science degree magna cum laude from North Carolina A & T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1987. He received his college diploma along with his brother Jonathan in 1988 in a year where his father as a presidential candidate was a speaker. He decided to follow his father's advice and experience a seminary education at the Hyde Park based Chicago Theological Seminary, where he earned his master's degree a year early but opted not to become ordained. In 1989, he earned his M.A. from the Chicago Theological Seminary in Chicago. Jackson proceeded to law school at the University of Illinois and convinced his future wife to transfer there from the Georgetown University Law Center. He then earned a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1993. Jackson never sat for the bar exam despite finishing his coursework a semester early.


Early political career

A teenage Jackson and his brother Jonathan assisted in their father's international civil rights activities. During the 1984 Democratic primaries, the three Jackson brothers sometimes appeared at events together in support of their father's presidential campaign. While in college, Jackson held a voter registration drive that registered 3,500 voters on a campus with 4,500 students. During the 1986 United States House of Representatives elections he got involved in politics outside his own family when he supported the return to office of Robin Britt, but first-term Congressman Howard Coble won re-election by less than 100 votes. Following these elective experiences, his first job after graduation was as an executive director for the Rainbow Coalition.

Jackson, Jr. was again involved in his father's campaigning during the 1988 Democratic Primaries. In 1988, in the dealings between Jesse Jackson and Michael Dukakis at the 1988 Democratic National Convention, Jackson, Jr. was named an at-large member of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) by a nomination from Democratic Party Chairman Paul Kirk. At the convention, the elder Jackson had himself introduced at the podium by all five of his children, including Jr. Jackson, Jr. was the last of the five children and introduced his father with the words "a man who fights against the odds, who lives against the odds, our dad, Jesse Jackson." During the speech, Jackson, Jr. saved his father from an allergic reaction or asthma attack by taking action to block air conditioning vents that were blowing on him during his speech. At the time, in Time magazine, Margaret Carlson depicted the younger Jackson as a well-spoken and compelling personality who would likely carry any of his father's political aspirations that his father was unable to achieve himself. His experience with the DNC gave him the opportunity to work on numerous congressional election races. After the convention he also became a Vice President of Operation PUSH.

Jackson's earliest public controversy came when he was linked to alleged Nigerian drug trafficker Pius Ailemen. Ailemen was supposed to be Jackson's best man at his 1991 wedding, but canceled at the last minute due to supposed passport-related issues. Jackson's name and pictures were included in San Francisco, California press accounts of the arrest, which resulted from a Federal Bureau of Investigation investigation. The investigation and court proceedings extended for several years. The wiretap included many conversations between the two and financial records indicate that Ailemen had purchased an Alfa Romeo using a $13,000 charge on Jackson's credit card. Ailemen was sentenced to 292 months in jail. In 2003, Ailemen was denied petition for a writ of certiorari. Mr. Ailemen's current motion questions Mr. Jackson's activities as a government informant at the time of his testimony in Ailemen's trial.

Jackson, Jr. spent his twenty-first birthday in a jail cell in Washington, D.C. following his participation in demonstrations against apartheid at the South African Embassy. It was not his first time being arrested for apartheid protest activity around his birthday: he was arrested with his father and brother the year before. His protest against apartheid extended to weekly demonstrations in front of the South African Consulate in Chicago. Jackson shared the stage with Nelson Mandela when Mandela made his historic speech following his release from a 27-year imprisonment in Cape Town in February 1990. Before entering the House, he became secretary of the Democratic National Committee's Black Caucus, the national field director of the National Rainbow Coalition and a member of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. Jackson, Jr. served as the national field director of the Rainbow Coalition from 1993 to 1995. Under Jackson's leadership, the Rainbow Coalition attempted to stimulate equitable hiring in the National Basketball Association because while 78% of the league's players were African American, 92% of the front-office executive positions 88% of the administrative jobs and 85% of the support positions held by Caucasians. While serving as the field director for the National Rainbow Coalition, he registered millions of new voters through a newly instituted national non-partisan program. He also created a voter education program to teach citizens the importance of participating in the political process. He is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and is also a founding board member of the Apollo Alliance.


Early congressional career

As a freshman congressman, Jackson quickly earned a reputation for his manners and decorum. Even when Jackson takes issue with the status quo, his deference to rules, political decorum, parliamentary procedure and personal principles shows through. Jackson's popularity on Capitol Hill also manifested itself very quickly. In his first nine months in office, he began to rival his father as a requested visitor to congressional districts with 36 requests from congressional colleagues. He was quickly immersed in efforts to help fellow Democrats on the campaign trail, where he is typically sent on the "black circuit" without any notification to the press. He was even chosen to represent Congress during a special week of television gameshow Jeopardy! In 1997, when Newsweek mentioned him in their list of 100 people to watch in the new century, dubbed "the Century Club", they praised both his oratorical skills and his popularity in Congress. They also raised the question of whether he would be the first black President. During the Clinton administration, Jackson voiced concern over patterns of compromising with the Republicans too often and voted in dissent on several notable bills that were the products of such compromise. Jackson quickly attempted to parlay his popularity into a seat on the United States House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure using the leverage of his ability to perform voter registration drives. By late 1996, it was speculated that if Carol Mosley-Braun agreed to drop out of the 1998 United States Senate elections, as she was being pressured to do for her support of controversial Nigerian military leader and politician Sani Abacha, that Jackson would consider running.



The 2nd District was overwhelmingly black when Jackson was first elected and remained so after the redistricting process following the 2000 Census.

Jackson won re-election in 2000 by a 90–10 margin over Robert Gordon.



In 2001, the Federal Election Commission ruled that Jackson could hire his wife on his campaign payroll as long as she was paid no more than the fair market value for her services.

In 2002, Jackson was challenged in the Democratic primary by three candidates. Jackson claimed that state Sen. William Shaw and his brother, Cook County Board of Review Commissioner Robert Shaw, had planted a bogus candidate in the primary race. The claim was that they selected 68-year-old retired Robbins truck driver, Jesse L. Jackson as an opponent in order to confuse voters and derail the congressman's re-election campaign. Jackson asked a Cook County court to question the Shaws and others under oath, but his effort was rejected and no criminal wrongdoing was found. As Jackson prepared to take further legal action, Jesse L. Jackson withdrew his candidacy after the unexpected deaths of his wife and grandson.

Jackson won re-election in the 2004 House of Representatives elections by a wide margin over Stephanie Kennedy Sailor.

In 2005, Jackson supported legislation that gave the United States Federal Court of Appeals jurisdiction over the Terri Schiavo case.

In the 2006 election among Jackson's opponents was Libertarian Party candidate and African-American pastor Anthony Williams, an outspoken immigration.[ Jackson won with 85% of the vote.



Jackson quickly built a track record of never missing a floor vote. Once he nearly missed his great-grandmother's funeral for a roll call, but the presiding officer was able to slightly delay the closing the roll, thereby keeping his attendance record. Fellow Democrats said he debates and votes with a contentiousness that makes it difficult to view him as a team player. Jackson developed foes not only in the House, but also in Chicago against William Daley, who had a hand in several attempts to block Jackson's seating on the transportation committee he desired because of his support for a third Chicago airport. Jackson has also been a target of conservative media figures.

Jackson established a heavily liberal voting record on both social and fiscal issues. During the 1990s, because of his name recognition and liberal track record, Jackson received many public speaking and media requests.

After being elected, Jackson attempted to parlay his popularity into a seat on the United States House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, using the leverage of his ability to perform voter registration drives.

In the 1996 elections, Jackson began to rival his father as a requested visitor to congressional districts with 36 requests from congressional colleagues. He was typically sent on the "black circuit" without any notification to the press when he campaigned for other candidates. Jackson made 30 appearances for Democratic congressional candidates in 1998.

In 1997, Newsweek mentioned Jackson in their list of 100 people to watch in the new century, dubbed "the Century Club", and raised the question of whether he would be the first black president.

Jackson criticized the Bill Clinton administration for working with Republicans and voted in dissent on several notable bills that were the products of compromise between Democrats and Republicans.

Jackson preferred direct aid and debt relief to trade reform as a method of helping impoverished nations such as those of sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean Basin, fearing that relaxed trade regulations would possibly benefit corporations and exploit labor. He is also an opponent of incentives for corporations to invest in developing nations. He was outspoken on issues of minority hiring in information technology.

Jackson voted against the impeachment of Bill Clinton, voting against all four articles of impeachment considered by the House.

In late 2000, as word spread that President-elect George W. Bush intended to appoint both Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and a third unnamed black to the United States Cabinet, Jackson sought to prevent blacks from supporting Bush as Bush planned to reach out to blacks.

Jackson partnered with Republican Henry Hyde to push for a third Chicago airport. Jackson said Hyde was the right wing complement to his own left wing role in pursuing support for the airport. Jackson has withheld support for local Democrats who would not support the airport, such as 1998 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Glenn Poshard.

In 2004, Jackson supported the Ho-Chunk tribe's proposal for a casino within his district in Lynwood, Illinois. The proposal was to build the largest casino in the state as part of an entertainment complex.

In 2005, Jackson sponsored a bill for the creation and acquisition of a life-size statue of Rosa Parks to be placed in Statuary Hall at the United States Capitol. The bill approving the funding for the statue was signed by President Bush on December 1, 2005.

Jackson was active in funding AIDS service organizations that serve blacks through Congress.

After the 2004 elections, Jackson became vocal in supporting election reform, disliking the way election rules differ across jurisdictions, saying that the U.S. "is founded on the constitutional foundation of 'states' rights'—50 states, 3,067 counties and 13,000 different election jurisdictions, all separate and unequal." He was one of 31 members of the House who not to count the electoral votes from Ohio in the 2004 presidential election. He also proposed legislation for uniform voting standards that was supported by black leaders.

Jackson and Zach Wamp were spokespersons for the changing the name of the main hall of the United States Capitol Visitor Center from the Great Hall to Emancipation Hall. The Library of Congress's main hall was already designated Great Hall. Some had wanted further feedback on naming possibilities, but the United States House Committee on Appropriations approved the new name, and it passed the House.

Jackson was one of the liberal leaders who supported a fixed timetable for Iraq troop withdrawals. In 2007, he has also co-sponsored (along with Roy Blunt), legislation providing nearly $1 million dollars to each family that lost someone to the al-Qaida activities in the 1998 United States embassy bombings.

In 2007 Jackson voiced an interest in initiating impeachment proceedings against President Bush for "crimes against the Constitution of the United States."

In April 2011, Jackson spoke on the house floor, blaming the iPad for "eliminating thousands of American jobs."

In the February 27, 2007 Chicago municipal elections, Jackson's wife, Sandi Jackson, won the election for Alderman in Chicago's 7th ward.

Jackson gave a prime-time speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention on August 25, 2008.[86] During his speech he referenced Martin Luther King, Jr., stating, "I'm sure that Dr. King is looking down on us here in Denver noting this is the first political convention in history to take place within sight of a mountain top." Jackson said, "I know Barack Obama. I've seen his leadership at work. I've seen the difference he has made in the lives of people across Illinois." At the convention, Jackson started what was described as a "hugfest" in an attempt to unite the Illinois Democratic party, which had been squabbling internally. He started by hugging Bobby Rush (who had been upset that Jackson's wife was being positioned for Rush's seat when Rush had been ill earlier in the year) and then he hugged Debbie Halvorson, who as been at odds with him over the proposed airport. He then asked if anyone else was mad at him. At this point Mayor Daley jumped up to hug Jackson. Jackson then said "I'm not going to be satisfied until I see Rod Blagojevich give Mike Madigan a hug."

Before the entire Congress was charged with seeking a solution to the financial crisis of 2007–2008 and overall economic crisis of 2008, Jackson proposed that the United States Department of Agriculture increase the allotment of food stamps. During the congressional debates on a federal bailout, Jackson worried about the viability of various plan iterations to his constituents. Although only two years earlier he spoke of Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi in glowing terms, he could not support the late-September version of the legislation she was proposing because he felt it contained inadequate homeowner protections. Although he voted against the bill on September 29, 2008 he voted in support of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 on October 3, 2008. He later expressed concerns in a New York Times op-ed article about the implications that the eventual bill had on enfranchisement due to the lack of protections for homeowners as it relates to voting rights.

Jackson sponsored legislation to make the Pullman District a National Park Service jurisdiction. On April 21, 2012, Jackson held a symbolic groundbreaking for the proposed third airport.



On June 10, 2012, Jackson took a medical leave of absence from the House, citing exhaustion.[98] On July 11, 2012, Jackson's office said he was being treated for a mood disorder at a residential treatment facility. His office denied speculation that he was being treated for alcoholism.[99][100] On August 13, 2012 it was confirmed by numerous news outlets that Jackson was in fact being treated for bipolar disorder.[101] Sixteen days after being re-elected to another term, Jackson resigned effective on November 21, 2012, citing his health problems and acknowledging the ethics investigations.


Personal life

During the 1988 presidential campaign, Jackson met his future wife, Sandi Stevens, who was press secretary for United States Congressman Mickey Leland. After her first year at Georgetown University Law Center, the couple decided public schooling was more affordable and jointly enrolled at the University of Illinois College of Law. While still law students, they got married on June 1, 1991. Jackson and Sandi now have two children, Jesse III ("Tre") and Jessica and keep two homes. They own one in the South Shore community area, which is within both the 2nd district that Congressman Jackson represents in the United States House of Representatives and within the seventh ward that his wife represents on the Chicago City Council as Alderman. The South Shore home serves as an election base for himself and candidates he has supported, for which he claims a 13–0 record in public elections. The South Shore home was the featured renovation on an HGTV Hidden Potential episode, first aired on March 24, 2009. The Jacksons also own a home in Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., which serves as the family home and base for his service in Congress.

Jackson acknowledges that he has had the benefits of privilege and opportunity and says that his hobbies include fencing, hunting and fishing, especially salmon fishing. He often enjoys these hobbies in bipartisan friendships that include Dick Armey and regarded the late Republican Rep. Henry Hyde as one of his closest friends. In fact, Armey points to Jackson as an example of his ability to work with politicians at all ends of the political spectrum. Jackson also has a very good relationship with Republican United States President George W. Bush despite their sharp ideological differences. The relationship traces back to when Jackson Sr. and United States President-Elect George H. W. Bush met to discuss a range of issues while Jackson Jr. and his siblings Santita and Jonathan had an hour and a half luncheon with future president George W. He also developed a relationship with Bill and Hillary Clinton that enabled him to watch Super Bowl XXXIII at Camp David with them.

Jackson is a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity. In 2006, when Jackson became a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity, Nu Pi Chapter, the Illinois House of Representatives issued a congratulatory resolution to his father. Jesse Sr. is also a member of the Omega fraternity. Jackson, Jr. delivered the keynote address to the fraternity at the November 18, 2006 Founder's Day gathering. He is also affiliated with the Theta Epsilon Chapter.

Jackson is a martial arts enthusiast who practices kung fu, tae kwon do, and karate. On August 1, 2007, Jackson got into a verbal disagreement with Rep. Lee Terry, a Republican from Nebraska on the House floor. Jackson stated in floor debate that "Republicans can't be trusted" and Terry responded with "shut up" before approaching Jackson. Jackson then spoke profanities and challenged Terry to step outside, presumably for a physical fight. Steve Rothman helped avoid escalation to actual physical confrontation. Martial artists throughout the Omaha, Nebraska area (Terry's district) called to inquire about Jackson's mindset and intentions. Jackson says Terry was the instigator. Terry says Jackson was at fault, but the two shook hands the next day and agreed to move forward in the interest of their constituents. However, a week later an unidentified man who claimed to be a Jackson relative walked into Terry's Omaha office saying he was Jackson's hitman who had come to beat up Terry, which led to FBI involvement. Although the story was covered in the Washington Post and Omaha World-Herald, neither the Chicago Tribune nor the Chicago Sun-Times covered any part of the story.

Jackson has used a battery-powered, GPS-equipped Segway in Washington. Jackson, who missed two votes in his first thirteen years in Congress, quipped that the Segway helps him to maintain his good voting record.

On July 12, 2012, Jackson's office acknowledged that he had been absent from Congress since June 10, stating that he was receiving "intensive medical treatment at a residential treatment facility for a mood disorder." After weeks of the public's not knowing where the Congressman was, his office announced on July 27, 2012, that he was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, undergoing an extensive inpatient evaluation for depression and for gastrointestinal issues. On August 13, 2012 the Mayo Clinic released a statement that Jackson was being treated for bipolar II disorder. As of September 7, 2012, Jackson Jr. is home in Washington, D.C. with his wife and children.





January 6, 2013

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