Last Sunday, Rev. Frederick Douglass Haynes III took the reins of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition as President after Rev. Jesse Jackson stepped down. The official moment took place at the organization’s 57th annual conference with Vice President Kamala Harris in attendance.
On Saturday, it was announced that Jackson would be stepping down as leader of the Chicago-based civil rights group he started more than half a century ago due to health reasons. For the last eight years, Jackson has been dealing with Parkinson’s disease and is now in a wheelchair. In 2021, he also had gallbladder surgery, contracted COVID, and fell at Howard University, which led to a severe head injury.
Haynes met Jackson in 1981, which quickly led to a mentorship. “He’s achieved iconic status,” Haynes stated. “He’s a legend in our time. When the history books are written, it could well be said that he will stand as one of the greatest leaders in American history.” Haynes, 62, has worked as the senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas since 1983 and, according to the church’s website, has grown its membership from 100 people to over 13,000.
Haynes will continue to live in Dallas and act as his church’s senior pastor. However, the Rainbow PUSH headquarters will remain in Chicago. President Biden released a statement about the transfer of power. “Jill and I are grateful to Reverend Jackson for his lifetime of dedicated service and extend our appreciation to the entire Jackson family,” he said. “We look forward to working with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition as he hands the torch to the next generation of leadership, just as we will continue to cherish the counsel and wisdom that we draw from him.”
On Twitter, VP Harris wrote: “Rev. Jesse Jackson, you are one of our nation’s greatest patriots. Thank you for widening the path for generations to follow.”