City Cast

This Week in Chi History: Rainbow Push Coalition Formed

Sidney Madden
Sidney Madden
Posted on December 19, 2022   |   Updated on June 21
Rev. Jessee Jackson speaking in front of a podium at Rainbow PUSH

Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks at Rainbow PUSH in December 1995. (Raymond Boyd / Getty)

Rev. Jesse Jackson formed Operation PUSH (People United to Serve Humanity) on Christmas Day more than 50 years ago this week.

In the 1960s
, Operation Breadbasket was the first iteration of the movement. As director, Jackson brought more economic opportunities to Black Chicagoans with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, or SCLC.

In ‘71
, he created Operation PUSH, pressuring big companies to hire more Black people and work more closely with Black communities.

In the ‘80s
, Jackson ran for president, inspired by Harold Washington’s historic mayoral election. He formed a multicultural political organization called the National Rainbow Coalition, a reference to the late Black Panther leader Fred Hampton’s more radical alliance of the same name.

By the ‘90s
, Jackson merged the two to create the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, which remains committed to fighting for economic and racial justice today.

Want to learn more about Rev. Jackson? Tune into WBEZ’s “Making.”

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