Jesse Jackson Jr. is a former African-American Democratic Congressman. From 1995 to 2012, he represented Illinois’s 2nd congressional district in the United States House of Representatives. Moreover, his father was an eminent political figure who was a former presidential candidate.
Born on March 11, 1965, in Greenville, South Carolina, Jesse Louis Jackson, Jr. grew up in the Jackson Park Highlands District. He received his early education from a nursery school and John J. Pershing Elementary School. He and his brother were sent to Le Mans Military Academy in Rolling Prairie, Indiana considering Jackson’s hyperactive behavior. He was often paddled for disciplinary reasons and also suspended twice from school. Besides, he showed keen interest in sports as he played for his high school football team and featured on one of Sports Illustrated’s sections. Following in his father’s footsteps he enrolled himself at North Carolina A&T University. In 1987, he received Bachelor of Science degree with magna cum laude. He took his father’s advice and went on to attend the Chicago Theological Seminary from where he obtained the masters degree.
Jackson’s educational background is quite rich as he went on to study at a law school at the University Of Illinois College Of Law. He earned Juris Doctor (J.D.) in 1993, however, he did not take bar exam even after he finished his coursework. In his teen years he assisted his father along with his brothers in civil rights activities. He also helped his father in his presidential campaign by holding a voter registration drive that registered 3,500 voters on a campus. Upon graduation he accepted his first job as an executive director for the Rainbow Coalition. His father had him involved in the 1988 Democratic primaries and obtained a position for him as an at-large member of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The position offered him the opportunity to work on a number of congressional election races. Afterwards, he was promoted to the post of a vice president of Operation PUSH.
On his 21st birthday, Jackson was arrested after participating in a protest at the South African Embassy against apartheid. He was present at stage when the legendary Nelson Mandela made one of the historic speeches in 1990, upon his release from prison. Later he became the national field director of the National Rainbow Coalition and the Democratic National Committee’s Black Caucus. Under his leadership, the Coalition tried to gain equal number of positions in the National Basketball Association, which were mostly occupied by whites. Also he introduced a voter education program to teach citizens the importance of participating in the political process and founded the Apollo Alliance along with other members.
In 1995, he wanted to run for the 2nd District Congressional seat. After the approval from Democratic National Committee chairman his name came up as potential replacement of another candidate’s seats who was dismissed for his misconduct. The same year, in September Jesse Jackson Jr. officially announced his candidacy. He won the Democratic primary with 48% and the general election with 76% of the votes. The redistricting process began in year 2000, which was again won by him. In 2004, he won re-election in the 2004 House of Representatives elections by a majority. Furthermore, he is credited for his services as a national co-chairman of the 2008 Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.