Rev. Jesse Jackson celebrated his 65th birthday on Sunday, Oct. 8. The celebration will continue with the annual Jackson Foundation black tie gala later this fall. Jackson and his wife Jacqueline established the foundation in 1989. Jacqueline Jackson was inspired to create the foundation by her mother Gertrude Brown, who went back to college earning a bachelor of arts degree from Hampton University at age 64. Two years later, Brown earned her master’s degree in social work from Norfolk State University.
The foundation has established two endowed scholarship funds: The Julius and Gertrude Brown Scholarship Fund at Hampton University and The Jackson Foundation Endowed Scholarship Fund at North Carolina A&T State University, the alma mater of Rev. Jackson and three of his children: Jesse Jr., Jonathan and Jacqueline.
Originally, the Jackson Foundation was funded by personal contributions from Reverend and Mrs. Jackson. Tuition costs for higher education, however, has risen dramatically and financial aid has been cut by the Bush administration. Mrs. Jackson has dedicated herself to creating programs and special events to raise funds for the foundation.
Jacqueline Jackson was born in Fort Pierce, Fla., and Jesse Jackson was born in Greenville, South Carolina. They met while attending college at A&T. Jacqueline Jackson has championed education, and during an interview with the Austin Weekly News this summer as she was preparing for the upcoming event, she talked about teachers “who hurt real good.”
“When I think about my early education, I think about teachers who injured and helped some,” Jacqueline Jackson said. “Words-things that people can say to you -can either ignite or create fright. People who have said things that were injurious was an attempt to injure my spirit, but were things that actually helped me. I have given myself the task of looking at those teachers who ‘hurt so good,’ as part of my giant patch quilt of work, which has helped to develop my mind, my soul, and my inner self. I learned to take a hurt, turn it into a positive motivational tool for my own growth and development. These early childhood lessons help to give me strength, even when I thought I did not have strength.”
Jesse Jackson is certainly someone people view from many angles, but when you listen to Mrs. Jackson you have a better understanding of the entire Jackson mystique. An interesting and soul searching statement Mrs. Jackson made was “being raised by strong women has helped me to observe and look at people’s souls. Because women on their own are a special breed of human being. I’m sure that in the still of quiet nights there must have been times my mother and aunts would shed tears, but they had the strength of their conviction to start that next day just as they had the day before.”
This year’s gala event will take place Saturday Oct. 28th at the South Shore Culture Center, 7059 South Shore Drive. The foundation will be honoring Vernon Jordan, former president of National Urban League, business executive, lawyer and advisor to former president Bill Clinton; Congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis; and Dolores Robinson, entertainment agent and mother of actress Holly Robinson-Peete.
Chairpersons for the event are: Camille Cosby, Cirillo McSween and Linda Johnson Rice. Distinguished Honorary Co-chairs are: President Bill Clinton, Dr. John Hope Franklin and former U.S. ambassador Andrew Young. For more information about the event and for ticket prices, call 773/256-2788 or visit, www.officialjacksonfoundation.org.