Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr (b. 1941) is a Baptist minister, civil rights leader, and politician. He ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for president in 1984 and 1988. Jackson attended the University of Illinois, the Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina, and the Chicago Theological Seminary. He was ordained a minister in 1968.
Jackson first became involved in civil rights in the 1960s when he marched with Martin Luther King in Selma, Alabama. He was in Memphis, Tennessee when King was assassinated but whether or not he was with him at the time remains controversial. He established the National Rainbow Coalition in 1984. During the 1970s Jackson began travelling abroad and negotiated the release of American civilians and soldiers in foreign countries. This earned him much praise but his diplomatic missions were criticized by some as meddlesome.
Until Barack Obama, Jackson was the most successful African-American candidate for president. In 1998 he counseled President Clinton during his impeachment trials and was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Clinton two years later. The following year, however, it was revealed that Jackson had fathered a child out of wedlock.
Jackson remains a somewhat controversial figure in the realm of politics and continues to promote social activism and lead protests.