Charlottesville: A Defining Moment in America

A Conversation with Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.

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Friday, September 8, 2017, 12:00-1:30 p.m.
Irvine Barclay Theatre (Map)

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Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.

The Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr., founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, is one of America’s foremost civil rights, religious and political figures. Over the past forty years, he has played a pivotal role in virtually every movement for empowerment, peace, civil rights, gender equality, and economic and social justice. On August 9, 2000, President Bill Clinton awarded Reverend Jackson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

Reverend Jackson has been called the "Conscience of the Nation" and "the Great Unifier," challenging America to be inclusive and to establish just and humane priorities for the benefit of all. He is known for bringing people together on common ground across lines of race, culture, class, gender and belief.

Born on October 8, 1941 in Greenville, South Carolina, Jesse Jackson graduated from the public schools in Greenville and then enrolled in the University of Illinois on a football scholarship. He later transferred to North Carolina A&T State University and graduated in 1964. He began his theological studies at Chicago Theological Seminary but deferred his studies when he began working full-time in the Civil Rights Movement with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was ordained on June 30, 1968 by Rev. Clay Evans and received his earned Master of Divinity degree from Chicago Theological Seminary in 2000.

For his work in human and civil rights and nonviolent social change, Reverend Jackson has received more than 40 honorary doctorate degrees. He was made an Honorary Fellow of Regents Park College at Oxford University in the UK in November 2007.

Reverend Jackson’s two presidential campaigns broke new ground in U.S. politics. His 1984 campaign registered over one million new voters, won 3.5 million votes, and helped the Democratic Party regain control of the Senate in 1986. His 1988 campaign registered over two million new voters, won seven million votes, and helped boost hundreds of state and local elected officials into office. Additionally, he won historic victories, coming in first or second in 46 out of 54 primary contests. His clear progressive agenda and his ability to build an unprecedented coalition inspired millions to join the political process.

He is the author of two books: Keep Hope Alive (South End Press, 1989), and Straight From the Heart (Fortress Press, 1987) and co-author of Legal Lynching: Racism, Injustice, and the Death Penalty (Marlowe & Company, 1996) and It’s About The Money (Random House, 1999) with his son, U.S. Representative Jesse L. Jackson, Jr.


Dr. Rabbi Hillel CohnDr. Rabbi Hillel Cohn

Founding chairperson of the City of San Bernardino Human Relations Commission and board member of The Community Foundation of Riverside and San Bernardino, Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties, and The Brightest Star

Dr. Rabbi Hillel Cohn served as rabbi of Congregation Emanu El from 1963 to 2001. He returned to lead the congregation for the 2014-2015 year as it carried on its search for a new rabbi. A native of Germany, he was brought to the United States as an infant by his parents who were refugees from Nazism. Rabbi Cohn grew up in the Pacific Northwest and Southern California. He received a B.A. in Political Science from UCLA. His rabbinical training was received at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles and Cincinnati where he was ordained as a rabbi in 1963. He earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Claremont School of Theology in 1984 specializing in ethics and communication. In 1988 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by the Hebrew Union College. In 2017 he was awarded a honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree by California State University San Bernardino.

During his tenure he compiled numerous prayer books, oversaw the construction of the Norman F. Feldheym Religious Education Center and wrote two national award-winning curriculums for the Congregation's Jewish education program. On the occasion of his 25th year of service to the Congregation, The Rabbi Hillel Cohn Endowment Fund was also established in his honor. Upon his retirement in June, 2001 Sisterhood established the Rabbi Hillel and Rita Cohn Campership Fund.  In 2017 the annual Rabbi Hillel Cohn Endowed Lecture on the Contemporary Jewish Experience was established at California State University San Bernardino.

He was the founding chairperson of the City of San Bernardino Human Relations Commission and currently serves as a board member of The Community Foundation of Riverside and San Bernardino, Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties, and The Brightest Star.


Mychael RamboT. Mychael Rambo

Actor, Orator, Activist

T. Mychael Rambo is an actor and vocalist and residency artist/educator and affiliate professor/recruitment coordinator at the University of Minnesota in the School of Theatre Arts and Dance.  He has been featured in several of August Wilson’s plays to wide acclaim, on HBO, and national, regional, and local theatre.

He is known throughout the world as a motivational speaker, community organizer and a committed community volunteer. He has received numerous awards for community engagement, including from the University of Minnesota--the 2006 Century Council Community Award, the 2001 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Fellowship, 1999 McKnight Artist Fellowship for Theatre Artists, the Griffin Award, the new Music Theatre Award, and the 1998 Minnesota State Arts Board Career Opportunity Grant among many others.  As a volunteer, he works closely with the Urban League, African American Family Services, Amicus, American Red Cross, Minnesota AIDS Project (former Board Member), Turning Point, and Minnesota Department of Corrections.


Michelle GoodwinMichele Goodwin

Chancellor's Professor of Law University of California, Irvine School of Law

Professor Michele Goodwin is a Chancellor’s Professor at the University of California, Irvine. She is the founder and director of the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy at UC Irvine School of Law and its internationally acclaimed Reproductive Justice Initiative.  She serves on the Executive Committee of the American Civil Liberties Union.  Professor Goodwin is an elected member of the American Law Institute and Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. She researches and teaches on questions that relate to constitutional law, health, and human rights.  Professor Goodwin’s editorials and commentaries appear in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Gene Watch, Christian Science Monitor, Politico, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Houston Chronicle, Chicago Sun Times, Washington Post, AlterNet and Forbes Magazine among others. She is a blogger for the Huffington Post and the Harvard Bill of Health and has been interviewed by local, national, and international news media.  Her publications include five books and over 80 articles and book chapters.


Part of the Center for Biotechnology & Global Health Policy’s 2017-18 Colloquium Series, Hate In A Period of Political Turmoil.