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Famous Adoptees or Adopters

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Jesse Jackson, African-American political leader, clergyman, and civil-rights activist (b. 1941)


Jackson was born in 1941 to Helen Burns, a 16-year-old single mother. His biological father, Noah Louis Robinson, a former professional boxer, was married to another woman at the time of Jackson's birth. In 1943, Burns married Charles Henry Jackson, who later adopted Jesse, who took the surname of his adoptive father.

Jackson was ordained a Baptist minister in 1968. Active in the civil-rights movement, he became a close associate of Martin Luther King, Jr. He served as executive director (1966–71) of Operation Breadbasket, a program of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) that addressed the economic problems of African Americans in northern cities. In 1971, he founded Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity), an organization to combat racism. Since 1986 he has been president of the National Rainbow Coalition, an independent political organization aimed at uniting disparate groups—racial minorities, the poor, peace activists, and environmentalists. Excerpted from Columbia Encyclopedia.

Fun Fact: Jesse Jackson campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988. He was the first African American to vie seriously for the office.

Photo source: Library of Congress

Next: Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computers 1955–2011

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