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Jesse Jackson

Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. at a 1984-1988 presidential campaign reunion reception on Friday at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition Community Hall on the South Side.

Owen Ziliak

Rev. Jesse Jackson will be succeeded by Dallas pastor as head of Rainbow PUSH

A Texas pastor and “longtime student” of the Rev. Jesse Jackson will succeed the 81-year-old civil rights leader as head of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the national organization that has long extended Jackson’s influence from Chicago’s South Side.

The Rev. Frederick Douglass Haynes III, senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, is taking on the role of president, coalition leaders said Saturday.

The announcement came a day after the organization announced that Jackson was “pivoting away” from the leadership role. One of Jackson’s sons, U.S. Rep. Jonathan Jackson, said health was a factor.

Haynes, 62, who couldn’t be reached Saturday, is expected to be formally introduced Sunday during the Rainbow PUSH Coalition convention at the Apostolic Church of God in Woodlawn. Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to speak.

In a written statement, coalition leaders called Haynes “a longtime student of Rev. Jackson and supporter of the organization.

“Rev. Jackson will be heavily involved in the transition while also continuing in his unwavering commitment to social justice, elevating his life’s work through education within Rainbow PUSH and in training ministers to continue the movement,” the coalition said.

Haynes, who has served at Friendship-West Baptist for 40 years, studied at Bishop College in Dallas, where he got a bachelor’s degree in religion and English in 1982. He also has degrees from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Foundation, according to an online church biography.

The Rev. Frederick Douglass Haynes III

The Rev. Frederick Douglass Haynes III

He has a background in activism with a focus on social justice, domestic violence and poverty and was applauded by former President Barack Obama for his THR!VE Intern and Leadership Program, which aims to connect young Black people with internships, mentors and jobs.

Jackson was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2017. His son Jonathan, a former Rainbow PUSH Coalition director, said “it is progressive” and that his father often uses a wheelchair.

This weekend’s convention marks the 35th anniversary of Jackson’s 1988 Democratic presidential primary bid. He also ran in 1984.

Decades earlier, he was one of the “Greenville Eight,” a group of Black students who protested the whites-only public library in his hometown of Greenville, South Carolina.

He formed Operation PUSH in 1971 and successfully negotiated the release of multiple U.S. citizens being held hostage abroad. The Rainbow Coalition, which grew out of his 1984 presidential campaign, merged with PUSH in 1996.

Jackson’s regular Saturday morning session at his headquarters was for years a must stop for politicians from Chicago and far beyond.

Jackson helped lead a 1983 voter registration drive that ultimately resulted in the election of Harold Washington as Chicago’s first Black mayor.

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