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JMU News

12/03/2003

JESSE JACKSON TO SPEAK AT JMU JAN. 19

HARRISONBURG — The Rev. Jesse Jackson will speak at James Madison University's Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2004 program Monday, Jan. 19.

Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Inc., was appointed by the late civil rights leader to direct the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's Operation Breadbasket program shortly after Jackson joined the SCLS in 1965 as an organizer.

Jackson will speak in Wilson Hall Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. In anticipation of a large audience, the College Center Ballroom and Grafton-Stovall Theatre also will open at 6:30 p.m. for viewing Jackson's address on large screens via the campus cable system. Admission to the speech is free and open to the public.

A native of Greenville, S.C., Jackson began working full time in the Civil Rights Movement following his graduation from North Carolina A&T State University in 1964.

Three years after King's assassination, Jackson founded Operation People United to Serve Humanity to expand educational, business and employment opportunities for disadvantaged people and people of color. In 1984, he founded the National Rainbow Coalition, an organization devoted to political empowerment, education and changing public policy.

Jackson, who ran for the U.S. presidency in 1984 and 1988, has since been involved in efforts to increase voter registration and voting. He has led major organizing tours in Appalachia, Mississippi, California and Georgia.

In 1997, President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright appointed Jackson Special Envoy of the President and Secretary of State for the Promotion of Democracy in Africa. With the credentials, Jackson met with African presidents Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Daniel T. Arap Moi of Kenya and Frederick J.T. Chiluba of Zambia.

Jackson's JMU appearance is part of Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week, which will focus on the theme, "Keep the Fire Burning — Be the Dream."

For more information, call J. Stacy Edwards, director of JMU's Center for Multicultural/International Student Services, at (540) 568-6636.