Jesse Jackson is an American civil rights activist and minister. He was born as Jesse Louis Burns on October 8, 1941 to a 16 year high school student named Helen Burns out of wedlock. Jesse’s biological father was their 33 year old neighbor named Noah Louis Robinson who was married to someone else. His mother married Charles Henry Jackson who legally adopted Jesse, but Jesse remained close to both his biological and adoptive fathers. He grew up in a time of strict racial segregation, went to an all black school and was often taunted by other children for being born out of wedlock. However, he was a bright and active child, was elected the president of the student body and was active in many sports.
He graduated from high school in 1959 and was offered a contract by a professional minor league baseball team. However, he chose to accept a football scholarship to the University of Illinois, which was a predominantly white school. Less than a year later, he transferred to North Carolina Agricultural & Technical College, where the majority of the student body was black. Here he played as a quarterback on the football team and was again elected president of the student body. Anti discrimination sentiment was at an all time high, and Jackson became an active participant in civil rights protests against racial segregation.
Jackson graduated from college with a degree in sociology in 1964. He came to national attention when he began working with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He helped to organize protests and marches and was soon given a role in running the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and later made the head of “Operation Breadbasket”, an economic forum of the Chicago branch of the SCLC’s operations that focused on job placements for African Americans. They boycotted white businesses in an attempt to convince them to hire black workers. In 1962, he married Jacqueline Lavinia Brown whom he had met at civil rights demonstrations, with whom he has 5 children.
In 1966, the family moved to Chicago where