Political and social activist Rev. Jesse Jackson is refashioning the “Keep hope alive” slogan he coined during his 1988 presidential run into a rallying cry, after publicly announcing he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Jackson, 76, followed an official release on the matter with a confirmation via Twitter Friday, admonishing his supporters “Parkinson’s diagnosis is not a stop sign.” According to Jackson, he first noticed symptoms of Parkinson’s roughly three years ago.
MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT to my friends and supporters on my health and the future. pic.twitter.com/JkuDNpxkix— Rev Jesse Jackson Sr (@RevJJackson) November 17, 2017
“As my daily physical struggles intensified, I could no longer ignore the symptoms, so I acquiesced,” Jackson’s statement read, in part. “After a battery of tests, my physicians identified the issue as Parkinson's disease, a disease that bested my father. Recognition of the effects of this disease on me has been painful, and I have been slow to grasp the gravity of it.”
Jackson was a part of Martin Luther King Jr.’s inner circle, as a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference during the 1960's and went on to found the non-profit Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. He also served as a key hostage negotiator during standoffs in Beirut, Lebanon in 1985 and in Gambia in 2012, among others. Jackson also unsuccessfully ran for President in 1984 and 1988.
Actor Michael J. Fox and late heavyweight boxing champion and activist Muhammad Ali both helped put a face to Parkinson’s disease. The condition has no known cure and notably causes tremors and other muscle control problems, such as poor coordination and balance.
Northwestern Medicine in Chicago confirmed Jackson was receiving treatment at the facility via statement. You can read Jackson’s full statement above.