Emerging African-American Leaders

Read about important and influential African-American leaders.
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Emerging African-American Leaders

The “interim period” (1968-1992) was less a time of organizational and social progress than of individual ascendancy by African-Americans, mainly male.

A number of African-American men assumed important leadership positions in mainstream America. Here's a brief overview.

Jesse Jackson

Once an important aide to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Chicago's Jesse Jackson founded Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity), the motto of which was “I am somebody!” Jackson also established the Rainbow Coalition, intended to bring activists of all races together.

Jackson was the first African-American to make a mainstream run for the President of the United States, competing in the 1984 and 1988 races as a major Democratic candidate. Although he has taken a somewhat lower profile since the 1988 campaign, he has continued to make national news with his ability to draw attention to social concerns such as crime, inequality of opportunity, voter registration, and teen pregnancy in America's inner cities. Jackson has also found ways to involve himself in a number of foreign-affairs issues.

On the March

When I was a child growing up in Greenville, South Carolina, the Reverend Sample used to preach ever so often a sermon relating to Jesus and he said, `If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me.' I didn't quite understand what he meant as a child growing up, but I understand a little better now. If you raise up truth, it is magnetic.

—Rev. Jesse Jackson, addressing the 1984 Democratic National Convention.

Although he has endured his share of scandal and controversy, Jackson nevertheless remains a charismatic and energetic spokesman for the civil rights movement and for various progressive causes. His son Jesse Jackson Jr. is a congressman from Illinois.

Louis Farrakhan

Louis Farrakhan emerged in the 1970s as a charismatic, telegenic, and controversial Muslim leader. Farrakhan headed up the Nation of Islam and won a reputation as a powerful spokesman for the Nation of Islam's separatist, Islamic vision for African-Americans.

Farrakhan's frequent anti-Jewish statements made him unappealing to many, but his emphasis on self-sufficiency and personal responsibility was (and continues to be) well received in many quarters.

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