Rev. Jesse Jackson's 68th birthdayRepresentatives Diane Watson and Maxine Waters, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr., and Herbie Hancock- Ian Foxx PhotographyThe civil rights icon celebrated his birthday amidst a gathering of family and friends to benefit Rainbow/PUSH
By Francis TaylorSentinel Contributing Writer
Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., President and Founder of Rainbow/PUSH Coalition recently hosted the Eleventh Annual Rainbow/PUSH and Citizenship Education Fund Awards Banquet at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills.
This year's gala followed the success of previous years and delivered first class entertainment, significant community and corporate support, sponsorship, and a fun-filled, worthwhile event that attracted a broad cross section of individuals including elected officials, religious leaders, entertainers, movie stars, community organizers, labor workers and everyday citizens.
Â Guests packed the hotel's grand ballroom and were treated to an evening that will surely be among the more memorable events of the year as they enjoyed entertainment from R&B legend Brian McKnight. They also witnessed recognition the prestigious awards to seven individuals for their contributions to the nation and the world.
Record Industry pioneer and icon, Al Bell, was honored for his contributions to the record industry. Bishop Henry M. Williamson, Sr., presiding Prelate of the 9th District, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, was recognized for his leadership and years of selfless service to others. Euna Lee and Laura Ling, television journalists, were applauded for their courage in attempting to reveal human rights abuses in North Korea, and sports 'giant' Kareem Addul-Jabbar, was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for being an inspirational hero in the world of professional sports and beyond.
Shonda Rhimes, creator and executive producer of "Grey's Anatomy" and "Private Practice" was honored for bringing a full range of diverse characters to a wide public audience in an award-winning television series.
Sir Elton John, legendary singer/songwriter and philanthropist, was recognized for always teaching compassion and for his work in the prison and jails project on HIV/AIDS education.
In his welcome message to the patrons, Jackson said, "We are pleased to come together to recognize and pay tribute to this group of remarkable individuals. Rainbow/PUSH is proud to celebrate their accomplishments and we look forward with hope as we redouble our efforts in the struggle for empowerment, civil rights, economic and social justice, and equality for all."
In addition to acknowledging the work of the Rainbow/PUSH Los Angeles Bureau Staff and others for their efforts in organizing this year's event, Acting Executive Director Michael Israel joined Jackson in welcoming the guests for their participation and in congratulating the evening's honorees. He pledged that the Rainbow/PUSH 'fight' goes on. "We must close the economic, social, and education gaps that separate the haves from the have-nots." Israel said. "We will never infringe upon the civil rights of others, but we must, and we will, fight for the civil rights of all..."
The elaborate evening and world class event was punctuated by multi-media presentations, live entertainment and fitting tributes to Jackson 's 68th birthday. In a moving introduction by his son, Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., he traced his fathers celebrated steps from his early days as a civil rights leader to his ascension as a candidate for the United States presidency.
Citing his father's success in early statewide primary elections as a presidential candidate, Jackson, Jr. noted the inspiration he provided to the Democratic Party to allocate delegate set the stage for President Barack Obama's eventual victory. He said, "if there had not been a Reverend Jackson, there would not be a Barack Obama."
The list of sponsors, supporters, patrons and guests of the Eleventh Annual Rainbow/PUSH and Citizenship Education Fund Awards Banquet is long and impressive. However, a partial list includes Ron Burkle, Major League Baseball, AEG, The Berry Gordy Family Foundation, Toyota , American Honda Motor Company, the National Basketball Association and The Wasserman Foundation.
Additional sponsors included Bill Shack of Copper Hill Homes, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Rev. Jim Covington, Flynt Management Group LLC, Fox News Channel, Morgan Stanley, Northern Trust and Safeway, Disney/ABC Television, Eli Lilly & Company, Interior Music, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Los Angeles Sentinel.
The Rainbow/PUSH Coalition is a progressive organization devoted to protecting, defending and expanding civil rights and improving economic and educational opportunity.
Well done Jesse and again, Happy Birthday from the Los Angeles Sentinel!