Rev. Jesse Jackson addresses concern for his son — and community

July 10, 2012

By Tony Arnold and Katie O'Brien

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A month after taking a sudden medical leave of absence for exhaustion, the circumstances surrounding Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s condition remain a mystery. In a statement from the congressman’s office last week, staffers explained that the Chicago Democrat’s condition was more serious than initially perceived and that Jackson would require inpatient medical treatment — but for what? And for how long?
The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. broadly addressed some of those questions on WBEZ’s The Afternoon Shift on Tuesday. 
Jackson Sr. said that he spoke with his son a few days ago and Jackson Jr.’s voice was strong.
“When we met some weeks ago, he felt the need to get medical supervision,” Jackson Sr. said. “He was very weakened and we got that.
He's now under medical supervision. He is regaining his strength and that part will be left to him and the doctors to describe at the appropriate time.”

Jackson Sr. said he hopes people will hear from his son soon. He said he relates to his son's medical issue as a father and he's pained and concerned about it.

Meantime, many of Jackson Jr.’s congressional colleagues are speaking out whether he should be more public about his medical issue.
Illinois’ senior senator, Dick Durbin, remarked Monday that his Republican colleague, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, has had regular and thorough updates on his health and answered “hundreds of questions” for voters after Kirk suffered a stroke earlier this year.

“As a public official, there comes a point when you have a responsibility to tell the public what’s going on,” Durbin said. “If there is some medical necessity for him not to say more at this moment than I will defer to that. But he will have to soon make a report on what he’s struggling with.”

Durbin repeated, Rep. Jackson’s health is the primary concern. But his constituents, understandably, have concerns of their own.
While Jackson’s father, longtime civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson, has, for the most part, sidestepped specifics on his son’s condition, he has been happy to discuss the challenges facing the middle class and potential solutions for economic recovery.
This weekend the Reverend’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition will host the 41st annual conference of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund, titled “A More Perfect Union: Closing the Gap and Expanding the Tent,” bringing together innovators, thought leaders and activists to exchange ideas and strategies to protect the gains of the civil rights movement.

Rev. Jackson joined the Afternoon Shift to discuss the ways in which poverty, transportation, segregation, unemployment and violence are interconnected.