Is it a plane, is it a train, is it Denzel? No, it’s Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, president and founder of Rainbow PUSH Coalition. It isn’t often the reverend comes West, but a famous man in history (Horace Greeley) said “go West, young man, go West.”
Rev. Jackson was the guest of well-known businessman and President & CEO of Partnership Radio, Mr. Abe Thompson at his home in Oak Park. Since the death to cancer last year in June of his lovely wife, Luana, who was general manager of Clear Channel’s local stations, WGCI-AM/FM and WVAZ-FM, Abe and his young son, Phoenix, have been in the hearts of many Westsiders.
Serving as host, Abe Thompson, along with Cathy Gaines and Wynona Redmond hosted an evening social gathering on May 27. Cathy Gaines, national director of fund development for Rainbow PUSH, stated, “We call these events ‘meet and greet receptions’ and what Reverend likes to do is go into the neighborhoods. He’s very quaint, and he likes to have these type of receptions with people from the neighborhoods, with the idea of giving them an update of what is going on in terms of social justice, civil rights, and to talk about our annual conference which will be June 11 through 16 at the Sheraton Hotel & Towers.
“Basically what we have is a week of events Sunday through Thursday. On Sunday we have the opening address with Rev. Jackson and that is our political day when we have a lot of our political people, and we’ll be talking about public policy. Our theme this year is ‘A More Perfect Union,’ building on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and President Lyndon B. Johnson.
“We came to Oak Park tonight because Abe Thompson is a long-time supporter of the organization and so is Ms. Wynona Redmond and the whole Dominick’s family, and we all live in the Oak Park vicinity, so we gathered and partnered as a group and said we’d do our ‘meet and greet’ together. So this is Wynona’s friends and business partners and Abe’s friends and business partners and my business friends and partners.”
Rev. Jackson and his staff invites everyone to attend this year’s annual conference, beginning with “Reunion Day” on Saturday, June 11. Some of this year’s speakers include entertainer Harry Belafonte, media icon Cathy Hughes, Black Enterprise’s Earl Graves, Harvard Professor Dr. Charles Ogletree, television’s Judge Greg Mathis, Chicago legend Herb Kent, Nation of Islam Leader Minister Louis Farrakhan, Senator Barack Obama, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Senator John Edwards, Cong. Jesse Jackson Jr., actor Marques Houston, financial guru Melody Hobson and University of Pennsylvania scholar Michael Eric Dyson.
One the conference’s important issues will be discussions on the renewal of the 1965 Voting Rights Acts. Sunday, June 12, the conference will focus on protecting and reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act. A national rally is scheduled for Aug. 6 in Atlanta, Ga.