West Side clergy members endorsed Jonathan Jackson for Congress on May 10 in Austin. | Provided

A contingent of influential West Side clergy members have endorsed Jonathan Jackson, the son of Jesse Jackson Sr. and a candidate running for the 1st Congressional District held by Congressman Bobby Rush.

The pastors and ministers gathered on the steps of the Columbus Park Refectory, 5701 W. Jackson Blvd., on May 10, to deliver their rousing endorsement, framing Jackson as the most prepared and seasoned candidate in the crowded 17-person field.

“He’s been fighting for us,” said Rev. Ira Acree, a co-chair of the Leaders Network, the faith-based social justice organization that’s located on the West Side. “He’s been a champion for equitable education. He’s been fighting [for] criminal justice. He’s been fighting to bring sensible gun legislation to our state. He’s been a voice across the nation.”

Acree, who pastors Greater St. John Bible Church in Austin, has also served in multiple leadership roles within Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

Rev. Marshall Hatch, the pastor of the New Mt. Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church in Garfield Park and a co-chair of the Leaders Network, emphasized Jonathan Jackson’s preparedness.

““There is nobody more ready on day one to do our community the most good than Jonathan Luther Jackson,” Hatch said, adding that Jackson has been “mentored and trained by his father in faith-based social justice work. There would be no Leaders Network if there were no Rainbow PUSH.”

David Cherry, the president of the Leaders Network, said his first congressperson as a young man growing up in Harlem was Rev. Adam Clayton Powell Jr.

“He was a larger than life minister and congressman and someone who fought for the community,” Cherry said.

Cherry recalled meeting Rev. Jackson in 1984, while the latter was visiting Harlem during his presidential run that year. Cherry said he even shook Jackson’s hand, a gesture that symbolically sealed his decision to register to vote.

“And here it is, 38 years later and I can stand with his son,” Cherry said on May 10. “I know Jonathan Jackson will fight for the people who are stuck at the bottom.”

Deborah Williams, a well-known West Side organizer, activist and member of the Leaders Network, lauded Jackson’s work with Operation PUSH’s oratory program.

“My daughter went through the program and she had a great role model in the program in Jonathan Jackson,” Williams said. “He always comes prepared, he has the right information, he knows his information.”

In brief remarks, Jackson said he’s anxious to help 7th District Congressman Danny K. Davis in Washington. The 1st Congressional District, Jackson said, is the “longest independently serving seat in Congress held by an African American,” adding that a Black has held the seat since 1929.

“When I come to the West Side, I think [about how] there are more African American men housed in Cook County Jail than in any university in the state of Illinois. We can do better than that. We can turn that around.”

Jackson is the national spokesperson for his father’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition. He’s also a partner in River North Sales and Service, a Chicago beer distributorship. In addition to Davis, Jackson has also landed the endorsement of 4th District Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

Congressman Rush has endorsed Karin Norington-Reaves, the CEO of the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article indicated that Congressman Danny K. Davis has endorsed Jonathan Jackson. Davis has not endorsed any candidate in the race. This article has since been updated. AWN regrets the error.