Representative Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. began service in the United States House of Representatives on December 12, 1995, as a member of the 104th Congress. He was the 91st African American ever elected to Congress.
Representative Jackson currently sits on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, serving as the 4th most senior Democrat on the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education; the Vice-Chair, or 2nd most senior Democrat, on the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs; and a member of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies.
His leadership created the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health in 2001, hailed by many minority health experts as the most important civil rights legislation since the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Representative Jackson also secured funding for the Institute of Medicine’s 2002 report on health disparities, “Unequal Treatment." In addition, Representative Jackson authored the law placing the first statue of an African American -- civil rights icon Ms. Rosa Parks -- in National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. He also co-sponsored soon-to-be-passed legislation renaming the Capitol Visitor Center's main hall as "Emancipation Hall," in memory and tribute to our country's struggle from slavery to freedom. Furthermore, he has served as a member of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission since 2003 as well as a member of the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government's Institute of Politics Senior Advisory Board since 2000.
Prior to his congressional service, Representative Jackson served as the National Field Director of the National Rainbow Coalition. In this role, he instituted a national, non-partisan voter registration campaign, and created a voter education and participation program which included encouraging the use of technology in elections.
Born in the midst of the voting rights struggle on March 11, 1965, Representative Jackson spent his 21st birthday in a jail cell in Washington, D.C. for taking part in a protest against apartheid at the South African Embassy. He also demonstrated weekly in front of the South African Consulate in Chicago, and was on stage with Nelson Mandela during his historic speech following a 27-year imprisonment in Cape Town.
In 1987, Representative Jackson graduated magna cum laude from North Carolina A & T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management. Three years later, he earned a Master of Arts Degree in Theology from the Chicago Theological Seminary, and in 1993, received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Illinois College of Law. He has also been awarded honorary doctorate degrees from the Chicago Theological Seminary, Governors State University, North Carolina A & T State University, Charles R. Drew Univ. of Medicine and Science, Meharry Medical College, Morehouse School of Medicine and Sojourner-Douglass College. Representative Jackson has co-authored A More Perfect Union: Advancing New American Rights (2001) with Frank E. Watkins. He also co-authored Legal Lynching II (2001), It’s About the Money (1999) and Legal Lynching (1996) with the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.
Representative Jackson resides in the Second Congressional District of Illinois with his wife Sandi, Chicago's 7th Ward Alderman, daughter Jessica Donatella, and son Jesse L. Jackson, III.