Rainbow Push Coalition, under the leadership of its founder and president Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., convened a meeting with local media at its local headquarters (930 E. 50th St.) May 30, to discuss the upcoming annual conference scheduled for June 10-15 in Chicago.

This year marks Rev. Jackson’s 40th year as an activist and leader in the civil rights movement. Over the years, Jackson has been instrumental in various human rights causes, and made significant runs for the presidency during the 1980s.

This year’s theme, “A More Perfect Union: Free, But Not Equal,” will explore a range of topics from civil rights in today’s world to minorities in the energy industry. Featured guests include Antonio Villaraigosa, mayor of Los Angeles; Rev. Al Sharpton; and Grammy Award-winning gospel artist, Kirk Franklin.

In a prepared statement regarding voting rights, Rev. Jackson stated, “We will be looking closely at how to address the dilemma in which the Democrats take us for granted while the Republicans write us off. We must consider how it is possible in each state to get on the ballot, to propose referenda, and to introduce new parties and new candidates.”

The conference opens Saturday, June 10 with a gala Reunion Day, this year a celebration of Jackson’s 40 years of service. It will be held at Rainbow Push headquarters beginning with the weekly TV and radio broadcast. Keynote speaker will be Rev. E. Franklin Richardson, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in New York and chairman of National Action Network. Following the regular meeting will be a Reunion Barbeque where participants connect the past to the present. The afternoon session will focus on U.S. policy toward the new Liberia, civil rights, and how to start Rainbow Push college chapters.

The conference then moves on Sunday, June 11 to the O’Hare Hyatt Hotel, 9300 W. Bryn Mawr, Rosemont, where the theme will be “Federally Protected Right to Vote – HJ Res 28.” The evening session will include a VIP Reception and Opening Night Reception. Sinbad has been invited to be MC, and musical entertainment will be Ramsey Lewis.

The rest of the schedule:

 Monday, June 12: “Labor Day – The Right to Organize”

 Tuesday, June 13: “The Right to Healthcare of Equal High Quality – HJ Res. 30”

 Wednesday, June 14: “Business Day – A More Perfect Union: From Freedom to Equality”

 Thursday, June 15: “The Right to Education of Equal High Quality – HJ Res 29”

A variety of speakers from across the nation will be on hand, including mayors, legislators, congressmen, national leaders, and activists, such as Bruce Gordan, national president NAACP; Marc Morial, national Urban League; Kim Gandy, National Organization for Women; Congressman John Conyers; Cong. Danny Davis; Cong. Bobby Rush; Cong. Jesse Jackson Jr.; Cong. Sheila Jackson-Lee; Cong. Luis Gutierrez; Cong. Maxine Waters; State Treasurer Judy Baar-Topinka; Christie Hefner, Playboy Enterprises; Sister Khadijah Farrakhan; Darius Brooks, gospel artist; Melody Hobson, Ariel Mgmt.; and Police Chief Shirlene Anderson, Jackson, Miss.

The last day of the conference, June 15, ends with a student town hall meetings and a discussion panel titled, “Life After High School – College is Possible.”