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Jackson, Jesse (Louis)

Although Jesse Jackson is not officially considered a government offocial, he is a well known public servant and is considered a vital part to this catagory.

Jesse Jackson, an African American minister, was born on October 8, 1941, to Helen Burns, a single teenage mother in Greenville South Carolina. Jackson's childhood was marked by feelings of isolation, difference, and poverty. Although, Noah Robinson, a prosperous Greenville citizen, was said to be his father, he was slow to acknowledge Jackson as his child until Jackson's future began to appear brighter as he grew into a young leader.

Jackson was offered a football scholarship from the University of Illinois, but after not receiving the coveted quarterback position, he returned home to attend the North Carolina Agriculture and Tech College. After serving as president of the student body in college, he became interested in the civil rights movement. The first protest that he led was against a local library with a "white only" policy, but that soon led to demonstrations against segregated restaurants, hotels, and theaters. Jackson graduated in 1964, and later attended Chicago Theological Seminary before being ordained a Baptist Minister in '68.

Jackson came into the national scene after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., a man Jackson respected. After heading the Chicago branch of Operation BreadBasket, he went on to found Operation PUSH in '71. PUSH, which stands for People United to Serve Humanity, has the motto: "I am Somebody". Someone once said of Jackson, "Not only does he believe in God but Jesse believes God believes in him".

Jackson, one of America's best known and respected Black leaders, who ran as a candidate for U.S. President twice, has received over 40 awards during the past ten years for being one of America's top 10 most admired men. Jackson, who works for racial and economic justice and also for the cause of international peace and the empowerment of society's outsiders, has received much fame, admiration and criticism for his work.