WASHINGTON, April 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and one of America's foremost religious, political and civil rights leaders, received the 2010 Louis E. Martin Great American Award from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies at the organization's 40th Anniversary Gala Dinner last night in Washington.
Reverend Jackson was recognized for his half-century of activism and leadership in the cause of human and civil rights and non-violent social change, and in particular his efforts to expand political engagement and participation in communities of color, a key Joint Center objective over its four decades of service as a leading research and policy institution.
He joins former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, Muhammad Ali, lawyer and civil rights leader Vernon Jordan, Congressman Charles B. Rangel and civil rights activist Dr. Dorothy I. Height in receiving the Joint Center's highest award, which is named for the distinguished black journalist, presidential advisor and principal founder of the organization. It honors an individual who has promoted racial harmony while championing policies that have made a difference in American society.
"We honor Reverend Jackson for his longstanding commitment to reaching across racial and economic fault lines, healing divisions, and focusing on what unites Americans as a people," said Joint Center President and CEO Ralph B. Everett in making the presentation.
"His historic presidential campaigns in the 1980s, along with his abiding commitment over the years to advancing civic and political engagement among people of color, has energized citizens to participate in the process and has greatly advanced the number of black elected officials nationwide," said Everett. "Because of him, the prospect of a person of color becoming President of the United States was no longer a question of 'if', but 'when.'"
Accepting the award, Reverend Jackson encouraged an audience of government, business, civic and community leaders from across the country to continue pressing for citizen engagement and activism as the best route to greater equality.
"The goal of our struggle was not freedom, but equality," he said. "And we do not yet have true equality in our country. We should not shout in victory before the game is over. We have miles to go."
Reverend Jackson praised the Joint Center as playing a historic role in enabling civil rights activists "to fight inequality with facts."
With this year's theme of Research – Empowerment – Engagement, and chaired by AT&T, the event raised more than $1.377 million for the Joint Center, a research and policy institution that focuses on the concerns of people of color.
The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies is one of the nation's leading research and public policy institutions and the only one whose work focuses primarily on issues of particular concern to African Americans and other people of color. The Joint Center currently is celebrating its 40th Anniversary. To learn more, please visit www.jointcenter.org.
SOURCE Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies