Mayor Brandon Johnson said Wednesday that he owes his extraordinary single-digit rise in the polls to the fifth floor of City Hall to the leadership of Pastor Jesse Jackson Sr.
Delivering the keynote address at the annual Rainbow PUSH convention, Johnson paid a compassionate tribute to the 81-year-old civil rights icon who quit the group he founded more than 50 years ago and passed the baton to the Rev. Frederick Douglass Hanes III of West Baptist Church in Dallas.
“Throughout history, there have been extraordinary individuals who surpassed ordinary people [in] … a perilous journey from freedom to equality. Pastor Jackson made it happen. … I would not be here without an extraordinary individual who forever impacted my life and the life of the world and that is Pastor Jesse Jackson,” Johnson said to a cheering crowd.
“He has contributed his voice and passion, his fighting spirit at every important moment in our nation’s modern history. … Pastor Jackson has worked tirelessly to break down barriers of discrimination and we are all better for it. The impact of his work in this world has demonstrated what the collective strength of the coalition brings to our nation.”
Pastor Frederick Douglass Haynes III gestures to Pastor Jesse Jackson at the Rainbow PUSH convention on Tuesday.
Johnson said Jackson was “the only person I’ve ever met who never saw defeat as defeat”, but as “a starting point for our next battle”. Jackson “embodies the hopes and dreams of those of us who are descendants of slaves,” the mayor said.
“Before anyone talks about healthcare for all, Pastor Jackson said single payer. Before we start talking about economic change that speaks for everyone’s benefit, Pastor Jackson said it’s a multi-cultural, inter-generational movement to bring about real transformation around this world,” the mayor said.
“Pastor Jackson understands the power and authority that comes with the robe. … And it is through that power and authority that a brother on the West Side of Chicago can hear the prophetic voice of Rev. Jesse Jackson [while] poll at 2.8% – but here I am,” said Johnson.
“You can be the mayor, but instead of just being a ruler or a king, you decide to appoint a king and be a ruler and be a prophetic voice for this generation.”
Mayor Brandon Johnson, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Frederick Douglass Haynes III at the Rainbow PUSH Convention Faith Leaders Luncheon at the David Rubenstein Forum at the University of Chicago on Tuesday.