On today, Friday, January 13, 2017, at 10:10 a.m., FAMU will host its annual MLK Convocation at Jake Gaither Gymnasium. The keynote speaker will be Jonathan Jackson, an accomplished businessman, educator, and social justice advocate, who is also the son of Civil Rights activist Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, a friend of Dr. King.
“We are honored to have Mr. Jonathan Jackson address the FAMU community during our annual observance and celebration of Dr. King’s great impact,” said Interim President Larry Robinson. “Mr. Jackson’s contributions to social justice, education, and business are impressive and inspiring. We are excited to learn about and from his experiences.”
Robinson added, “Dr. King’s life and work represented an unwavering commitment to ensuring that all people, no matter race, color, or creed, have access to the American dream. The FAMU community is humbled to have another opportunity to honor his legacy with our annual convocation and service projects.”
Jackson’s advocacy and business savvy have taken him around the world. He has met with heads of state throughout the world, including Venezuela President Hugo Chavez during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina catastrophe and Haiti President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Notably, in 1983, Jackson traveled to Syria with his father to secure the successful release of a captured American pilot, Navy Lt. Robert Goodman. In June 1984, Jackson, once again, flanked his father as he negotiated the release of 22 Americans being held in Cuba after an invitation by Cuban President Fidel Castro. On the eve of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Jackson traveled with Rev. Jackson to meet with Iraq President Saddam Hussein to negotiate the release of foreign nationals being held as a “human shield.”
Alongside his siblings, Jonathan campaigned for his father’s presidential bids in 1984 and 1988. Since that time, he has continued to support his father’s work as a national spokesman for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. He can regularly be seen on Saturday mornings on the Rainbow PUSH TV show and cable TV’s worldwide show “Upfront with Jesse Jackson.”
In 2009-2010, Jackson successfully fought the closure of 16 Chicago Public Schools, causing the district to reverse plans that would destabilize communities. In 2016, Jackson served as a Democratic National Committee delegate for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, traveling to 30 cities advocating for the presidential candidate’s platform of economic and social justice.