Rev. Jesse Jackson Announces Parkinson’s Diagnosis

Rev. Jesse Jackson Announces Parkinson’s Diagnosis


On November 17, civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. announced that he’s been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

“Reverend Jackson was born a fighter and the fights he’s led and won for this country prove just that. Through his Rainbow Push Coalition, Reverend Jackson has called out racism in politics, policies and the private sector, and he has demanded justice and equality for all Americans,” stated Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.   

“The Congressional Black Caucus will keep Reverend Jackson and his family in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” he added.

Rev. Jackson is 76.   He was seen this week on Capitol Hill as he visited congressional offices and greeted passersby who saw him.

Jackson wrote that, “recognition of the effects of this disease on me has been painful, and I have been slow to grasp the gravity of it.  For me, a Parkinson’s diagnosis is not a stop sign but rather a signal that I must make lifestyle changes and dedicate myself to physical therapy.”

The Chicago Reverend made pubic a letter from Northwestern Medicine that confirmed the diagnosis. Over 50,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s annually in the U.S. each year.

“Rev Jackson has been a pioneer for African American political progress and a key civil rights icon for over half a century. The NAACP wishes him and his family strength and resoluteness in addressing the issue of Parkinson’s disease,” said NAACP Board Chair Leon Russell.

“Black participants were nearly 30% less likely to see an outpatient neurologist relative to their white counterparts,” according to the study Racial Disparities in Neurologic Health Care Access and Utilization in the U.S.

“In the same ways that he has fought and won against the challenges of racism, segregation and inequality, we know Rev. Jackson will take on this health challenge with the same vigor,” said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson.

Jackson is expected to continue to tour the country and speak out on justice as his health permits.

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Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke is a writer, comms strategist and political analyst. She created Crewof42, a blog focused on African American members of Congress, in 2009. Ms. Burke also writes for NBC BLK, The Root, NNPA and is the Managing Editor of Politic365. As part of a diverse career in politics and media, she has served as a congressional staffer for the U.S. Senate Democratic Policy Committee, Communications Director for U.S. Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) and Director of Communications for Justin Fairfax for Lt. Governor of Virginia. From 2014 to 2017, Ms. Burke appeared each Monday on NewsOneNow with Roland Martin on TVOne. Ms. Burke holds a B.A. in History from The American University. She was born and raised in New York. Email: Twitter: @LVBurke. IG: @laurenvburke. Periscope: @LVBurke