Newswire : Friends, medical community weigh-In on Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Parkinson’s diagnosis

By Stacy M. Brown (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

 

 

jessejacksonwithpushlogo

                                                                   Rev. Jesse Jackson
Last week, civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., 76, revealed that he has Parkinson’s Disease.
Rev. Jackson said that this all came about after family and friends noticed a change in him about three years ago, and he could no longer ignore symptoms of the chronic neurological disorder that causes movement difficulties.
Rarely do we hear about high profile members in the African American community being affected by Parkinson’s. But make no mistake, Parkinson’s disease is not a White man’s disease. Anyone can get it. One of the most high-profile African-Americans with Parkinson’s was heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali who was diagnosed in 1984 at the age of 42.
Reverend Jesse Jackson’s Parkinson’s disease diagnosis caught many by surprise, but those who know him said they’re confident that he’ll overcome the life-threatening challenge before him.
“He’s in the rumble of his life, but he’s rumbled some big foes before,” said Vincent Hughes, a Democratic state senator from Pennsylvania who campaigned for Jackson in 1984 and again in 1988. Hughes said that Jackson’s campaigns were birthed in the Black empowerment movement that followed the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. “I’m one of those African Americans, who took office and was a part of that issue of ‘protest to power’ and Rev. Jackson was, in many respects, our leader and he still is.”
More than anyone else, Jackson opened the door for the election of Barack Obama, the first African American President of the United States, said Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., the president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA). Chavis was one of Jackson’s contemporaries during the Civil Rights Movement. “Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., is a living, global civil rights icon. As a colleague in the Civil Rights Movement dating back to the 1960s and under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I have personally witnessed the selfless sacrifice and dedication of Rev. Jackson.”
Chavis continued: “For all who have cried out for freedom justice and equality, the news of his Parkinson’s disease should only serve to re-dedicate a movement now for healthcare equality for all, not only as a civil right, but as a human right.”
In his statement about the disease, Jackson recalled his foray into activism, being arrested on July 17, 1960 with seven other college students who advocated for the right to use a public library in his hometown of Greenville, S.C. He said that he remembers the arrest as if it happened yesterday and it was a day that forever changed his life.
“From that experience, I lost my fear of being jailed for a righteous cause. I went on to meet Dr. King and dedicate my heart and soul to the fight for justice, equality, and equal access,” said Jackson, whose multiracial National Rainbow Coalition grew out of his work in the 1984 presidential campaign.
He said he resisted interrupting his work to visit a doctor, but his daily physical struggles intensified and he could no longer ignore his symptoms. “After a battery of tests, my physicians identified the issue as Parkinson’s disease, a disease that bested my father,” Jackson said.
Rev. Al Sharpton issued a statement saying that he spent time with Jackson and his family in New York, as Jackson made the announcement of his illness. “As I watched him, I was reminded of the greatness of this man,” Sharpton said. “Reverend Jackson has changed the nation and served in ways in which he never got credit.”
Maynard Eaton, a journalist and national director of communications for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, called Jackson a legendary and fearless civil rights champion. He said the disease may slow Jackson, but won’t stop him.
“Activism and civil rights are in his blood. As a journalist, Jesse Jackson has been a treat and joy to cover and write about,” said Eaton. “He has been a civil rights darling and media maverick…Jesse Jackson is a quintessential and preeminent civil rights activist of our time.”
Even though Parkinson’s disease is a chronic neurological condition, it is very treatable, said Dr. Nabila Dahodwala, an associate professor of neurology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease does not necessarily mean that you must make drastic changes, but every individual is different in how they are affected, how they respond to treatment and how they choose to spend their time,” Dahodwala said.
Ihtsham ul Haq, an expert in neurology at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, said he believes Jackson will do well. “Though each patient’s journey with Parkinson’s disease is a little bit different, thankfully for many the symptoms are often well-managed with medication, said Haq. “The hallmark of the disease is the slow loss of dopamine in the brain, which unlocks our movement.”
Haq continued: “As patients begin to produce less of it they show the slowness, stiffness, and tremor that typify the disease. Replacing dopamine usually substantially alleviates these problems.”
Leslie A. Chambers, the president and CEO of the American Parkinson Disease Association, said making appropriate lifestyle changes and focusing on physical therapy will go a very long way to helping Jackson live the best life possible, in spite of the disease.
“Since its a lifelong chronic illness, the American Parkinson Disease Association encourages people with Parkinson’s to seek out a top notch medical and healthcare team, which includes a movement disorders specialist physician and allied healthcare providers and protect and defend their overall health status with a nutritious diet, physical therapy and safe, effective daily exercise programs, as well as emotional and social support from family, and professional care partners-givers,” Chambers said, adding that the association extends heartfelt wishes to Jackson.
Dorothy Leavell, the chairman of the NNPA and the publisher of the Crusader Newspaper Group said that even though Jackson is in for the fight of his life, she warned that Parkinson’s disease had met its match. “This is a major blow, but it’s not the death knell,” said Leavell. “We will keep working and encourage Jesse with all he’s done for us and continues to do.”

ANSC to hold Spring Convention in Montgomery on Saturday June 10

 

Doug Jones, Sue Bell Cobb and Walt Maddox

 

The Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC) is holding its Spring Membership Convention on Saturday June 10, 2017 from 8:00 Am to 3:00 PM at the Wind Creek Casino, Rambling Hall on Eddie L. Tullis Road in Montgomery.
The ANSC is a progressive statewide political organization, formed in 1985-86, in the aftermath of the Rev. Jesse Jackson campaign for President to work for a “Change for the Better – in Our Lifetime” in Alabama. The ANSC’s sister organization, the Alabama New South Alliance endorses candidates running for state and local offices in Alabama.
The membership convention will have luncheon remarks by three Democratic candidates, who expressed interest in running for Governor of Alabama in 2018 – former U. S. Attorney, Doug Jones, former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Sue Bell Cobb and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox.

After the planning and invitations went out, Governor Kay Ivey decided to hold a special election for the U. S. Senate seat, vacated by Jeff Sessions, in November of 2017. Doug Jones then decided to run for this seat. Other Democratic and Republican candidates for the U. S. Senate seat will also be introduced and have a chance to address the group.
There will be two panels in the morning for members. The first will be about strategies for voter engagement, registration, education and turnout. The second will be a group of younger members of ANSC speaking about how to interest, attract and involve younger people in community building and change activities.
Senator Hank Sanders will give a talk on the “Current Political Landscape in Alabama” to start the program. John Zippert, State President and other ANSC officers will comment and provide direction for the work of the organization.
The meeting is open to all members of ANSC and those interested in joining. The organization has active chapters around the state that will be bringing members to attend. The registration fee for the Convention, which includes breakfast and lunch, is $25.00. For more information, contact Shelley Fearson ANSC State Coordinator, at 334/262-0932 or email; ALNewSouth@aol.com.

The day that Rev. Jesse Jackson took Fidel Castro to church

 By Don Terry (NNPA Newswire Guest Contributor)

 castrojackson_2695_dterry_web120-1280x640

 Rev. Jesse Jackson at memorial service for Fidel Castro in Havana

HAVANA — On the evening of December 1, six days after Fidel Castro’s death at age 90, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., stood in the pulpit of the packed First Presbyterian Church of Havana. Applause washed over him and moonlight danced on the warm waters of the nearby Caribbean.

The international human and civil rights legend from Chicago was one of only two Americans invited by the Cuban Council of Churches to speak at an ecumenical memorial service that evening for the nation’s former president. The other American was Rev. Joan Brown Campbell, a longtime advocate for social justice and the first clergywoman to lead the National Council of Churches.

Projected on the wall behind the pulpit as he spoke was a visual reminder of why Jackson is held in such high esteem by the country’s religious community: a black and white photograph, taken on June 28, 1984, of Jackson and Castro – the reverend and the revolutionary – at an event that continues to reverberate through Cuban society 32 years later, government officials and church leaders say.

On that day, Jackson pulled off a near-miracle in a daring act of citizen diplomacy and liberation theology. He took Castro to church and in doing so helped open a door to the possibility of change and increased religious freedom across the island nation of 11 million souls.

For the first time in 27 years Castro attended church. Although invited on many previous occasions over the years by Cuban and foreign church leaders, Castro always declined until Jackson persuaded Castro to accompany him to a Methodist church in Havana.

“That visit was central to the new relationship between the state and the church,” Rev. Pablo Oden Marichal, an Episcopal priest and member of Cuban’s National Assembly, who was at the church that day in 1984, said during Jackson’s recent trip to Cuban. “From that circumstance a new relationship with the church and the government started. And Rev. Jesse Jackson was at the center of it.”

While there remains much work to be done, that day was the beginning of a thaw in the icy — often repressive — relationship between the Cuban government and the country’s religious community. Cuba was officially an atheist state and “believers” like Rev. Marichal were barred from serving in the government. Slowly, that began to change after the two leaders walked into church together, joking and laughing when Jackson asked Castro, who was dressed in his green army fatigues, to take off his hat and remove his cigar before entering the sanctuary.

“I want to remind you in these very brief remarks,” Castro told the crowded church that day, “of the very profound impression that the Rev. Jesse Jackson has made on all of us, because of his honesty, his talent, his sincerity, his honor, and the profound passion with which he fights for peace and friendship…And I consider him an extraordinary spokesman of the highest ideas of Christian thought.”

It was Jackson’s first trip to Cuba; his first meeting with Castro. At the time, Jackson was running for President of the United States and arrived in Havana with a delegation of clergy and scholars, dozens of Secret Service agents and even more reporters and television news camera crews.

Cuba was the third stop on Jackson’s four-nation fact-finding and peace-making tour of Central America. The drums of war were echoing through much of Latin America. Right-wing death squads were murdering peasants, priests and nuns. Cuba was in the crosshairs of the Reagan Administration, which accused the Castro government of exporting arms and rebellion from El Salvador to Southern Africa. Any talk of ending the crippling trade embargo against Cuba and normalizing relations was laughed at in Washington.

At a news conference upon his arrival, Jackson said that he was “hopeful that our visit to the island will help break the cycle of misunderstanding and bring our people and our governments closer together so that we can begin to relate to each other as the neighbors that we are.”

He had reason to be confident. A few months earlier, Jackson had pulled off his first near-miracle of the campaign season. No one believed he could do it, but he negotiated the release of an American Navy pilot, Lt. Robert Goodman, shot down over Syria and brought him home. Yet, Washington insiders told Jackson he was naïve and should not waste with his breath talking to Castro about setting captives free.

The two men talked for eight hours. By the time they were finished, Castro had agreed to send home 22 Americans imprisoned in Cuba, mostly on drug charges. He also agreed to release and fly to Miami 26 Cubans, some of whom had been in prison for 20 years. The United States referred to the newly released Cubans as political prisoners. The Castro government called them terrorists and enemies of the state. Jackson simply called them free.

Castro wanted something from Jackson during the trip. He asked Jackson to join him in speaking to 4,000 students at a local university. Jackson agreed. Then, as he told the congregation at the recent Havana memorial service, he asked Castro “point blank” why he did not go to church.

Castro told Jackson that he grew up in the Catholic Church and loved it. He took to heart the teachings about defending the poor and weak. But when he came down out of the mountains after defeating dictator, Fulgencio Batista in 1959, he was shocked to find, Jackson said at the memorial service, “priests in the courtyards with guns, aiming at us, defending the graveyards of the rich.”

Castro was bitterly disappointed and angry. He thought about burning the churches down. Instead, he turned his back and stayed away. “I reminded Fidel of minsters who preach and practice the theology of liberation,” Jackson said, “ministers and visionaries like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I told him, ‘That’s the church of your dreams, so don’t give up on the church.’”

The next day, Castro accompanied Jackson to the Methodist church where an ecumenical group, including various Cuban clergy and a delegation of African American ministers from the National Council of Churches and the Black Theology Project, was holding a service and meeting to study and commemorate the work of Dr. King and liberation theology.

“Nobody knew Fidel was coming,” said Dr. Benjamin Chavis, a longtime civil rights activist and former head of the NAACP, who is now president of National Newspaper Publishers Association. “It was an exciting moment. Everybody stood up and clapped. The Cuban people were overjoyed. They were glad to see their leader coming to church.”

Chavis was there that day. He appears in the photograph of Jackson and Castro taken at the church. Chavis is standing next to Castro on the right, preparing to introduce the Cuban leader. “We all knew we were not only witnessing history, we were participating in history,” Chavis said. “I’ve thought about that day a lot since then. It was inspirational.”

Five months later, Castro and religious leaders sat down for the first of what became a regular series of meetings of the government and the Council of Churches. The first meeting was supposed to last about an hour. It went on for six, Marichal, the Episcopal priest, said. The church leaders outlined “the many cases of discrimination” against “believers in the country.” Believers could not serve in the government. They could not build new churches. “We came to Fidel,” Marichal said, “to ask him to stop it.”

It took six years of constant talk and work, but eventually, in the early 1990s, believers were allowed to serve in the government. In 1992, Cuba officially became a secular state. Six years later the Pope visited Cuba for the first time. “Religious freedom in Cuba is tolerated far more than people think,” an American official at the U.S. Embassy in Havana told Jackson on his recent trip to the island. Building new churches, however, remains difficult.