Jessie Jackson was born in Greenville, South Carolina, on 8th October, 1941. He attended the University of Illinois (1959-60) on a scholarship. He also obtained a B.A. in sociology at Greensboro Agricultural and Technical College in 1964.
Jackson became active in the civil rights movement while still a student and eventually became a field worker with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). In 1965 he took part in the Selma to Montgomery march and although he was ordained a Baptist minister in 1968, he concentrated on his civil rights work and served as SCLC's national director (1967-71).
In 1971 Jackson founded People United to Save Humanity (PUSH), an organization that advocated African American self-help. In 1983-84, Jackson became the first African American to make a realistic bid to become president. Jackson failed in his efforts to receive the Democratic Party nomination. He was also unsuccessful in 1987-88.