The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., is the living embodiment of civil rights. His 50+ years campaign to attain equality and equity for all people has never wavered.
Now well into his seventh decade of life, Jackson’s determination to fight for human rights has increased even more and supporters can witness his deep resolve at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition’s 20th Annual Awards Gala on Oct. 12, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
Judge Greg Mathis of the award-winning television court show will serve as host and Grammy-winning artist Lalah Hathaway will perform.
Billed as a 77th birthday celebration and fundraiser, the event will highlight critical issues facing African Americans and the underserved in the U.S. as well as recognize individuals that Jackson describes as “men and women in the trenches of the freedom struggle.”
The honorees include the Rev. Marvin Hunter, pastor of Grace Memorial Baptist Church in Chicago and the great uncle of Laquan McDonald, the 17-year-old who was shot 16 times by a Chicago police officer.
Also, Linda Haywood, the great niece of Jack Johnson, the first African American world-boxing champion. Johnson was convicted in 1913 of transporting a White woman, who was his girlfriend and later his wife, across state lines for “immoral purposes.” Haywood mounted a years-long effort to clear her uncle’s name, which resulted in Johnson receiving a posthumous presidential pardon in May 2018.
Commenting on the current divides that exist in American society, Jackson said, “These are perilous times. Everything we’ve fought for – and won – in the last 60 years is under attack – worker’s rights, children’s rights, women’s rights, immigrant rights, voting rights, affordable health care and environmental protections.
“We need everyone’s support to continue our work in the areas of voter registration, and equity and inclusion in Hollywood, the auto industry, Silicon Valley, Wall Street and Hollywood,” he insisted.
Yet, Jackson admitted that there are some bright spots on the horizon. Sub-titling his birthday gala as “The Dream Lives On,” he cited the voices of U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters and U.S. Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker as reasons to remain hopeful about the country’s future.
“The voices of Mike Espy running for the U.S. Senate in Mississippi, Andrew Gillum running for governor in Florida, Stacey Abrams running for governor of Georgia and Ben Jealous running for governor of Maryland are also impactful,” said Jackson. “When we run, we inspire others and we win.”
With the mid-term elections coming up on Nov. 6, he also stressed the importance of African Americans exercising their right to vote. According to Jackson, eight million Blacks in the U.S. are not registered and 2.5 million Blacks did not vote in 2016.
“This November 6 can be a Jubilee Day if everyone joins the fight. If we vote our interests, we can change the political landscape of this nation and change the culture of this country in a big way,” said Jackson. “If we vote our hopes and not our fears, we win!”
For information and tickets for the 20th Annual Awards Gala, call (818) 814-6670.