Jesse Jackson, wife hospitalized with COVID-19

Civil rights leader and two-time presidential candidate the Rev. Jesse Jackson and his wife, Jacqueline, have been hospitalized in Chicago after contracting COVID-19.

According to a statement released by his organization, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the 79-year-old Jackson and his 77-year-old wife were admitted to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

Their conditions haven’t been released.

Jackson was one of the first high-profile civil rights figures to get the vaccine, receiving his first Pfizer dose during a highly publicized event in January, where he urged others to get it.

Credit: AJC file

Credit: AJC file

“I wouldn’t wish the COVID virus on anyone and of course I am concerned about him,” said Joe Beasley, the former Southern regional director of Rainbow/PUSH. “I am glad he is vaccinated so maybe it won’t be as bad. I am hoping for the best for him and Jacqueline, who is his backbone. We are praying for his recovery.”

Although he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2017, Jackson, who ran for president in 1984 and 1988, and who was with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the night he was assassinated, has remained active.

He has continued to push for Black people to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and earlier this month, he was arrested during a demonstration outside of the U.S. Capitol as he was calling for Congress to end the filibuster in order to support voting rights.

This is the second time that Jackson has been hospitalized this year.

In January, he had surgery at Northwestern for an undisclosed condition before spending three weeks at the Northwestern-affiliated Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, regaining his ability to walk.

While he is widely affiliated with Chicago, Jackson maintains strong ties to Atlanta. He has an affiliate office of Rainbow/PUSH in Atlanta and in 2013 he filed a federal lawsuit challenging Georgia’s “Stand Your Ground” law, claiming that statute was too vague and unconstitutional. A federal judge dismissed the case in 2014.

On Oct. 14, Jackson is slated to kick off his annual Creating Opportunity Conference in the city.