Chicago April 23rd, 2013
The government of South Africa will bestow upon the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. the
prestigious Award of the Order of Companions of OR Tambo for his excellent contributions to
the fight against apartheid and the struggle for equality and human rights.
The Order of Companions is one of South Africa’s highest awards. It is given to foreign
nationals (Heads of State and Government) and other foreign dignitaries, for their friendship,
solidarity and support shown to South Africa. The Order constitutes an essential pillar of
international and multilateral relations.
South African President Zuma will present Rev. Jackson on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at a
ceremony to be held at the Sefako Mahgatho Presidential Guest House in Pretoria, South Africa.
The Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr., Founder and President of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.
For over five decades, he has been one of the world’s foremost civil and human rights leaders.
Rev. Jackson life’s work has run parallel to the struggle against apartheid and the forging of a
New South Africa.
Jesse Jackson first visited South Africa in 1979 following the death of Steve Biko. Jackson
attracted huge crowds at his rallies in Soweto where he said about South Africa’s oppressive
apartheid system, “we must measure human rights by one yardstick. Human rights for all human
beings.” In 1985, he rallied with Oliver Tambo, Bishop Huddleston and tens of thousands of
others in Britain’s Trafalgar Square, and met with PM Thatcher urging her to drop Britain’s
support for the apartheid regime.
In the United States, Jackson worked tirelessly to mobilize opposition to the “terrorist state” of
South Africa and to reshape the United States foreign policy on South Africa – a time when the
US, Britain the Western Power constituted the major economic, political and military support for
Apartheid. Rev. Jackson strongly opposed Reagan’s policy of constructive engagement with the
During the 1984 presidential race Jesse Jackson met with ANC President Oliver Tambo, and
pledged his support. Jackson was also a supporter of Reverend Leon Sullivan’s ‘principles which
were designed to force U.S. corporations in South Africa to ameliorate the condition of Black
workers. He called apartheid in South Africa a “moral disgrace,” making it a centerpiece of two
campaigns for president of the United States.
Jackson also led campaigns against US and international businesses with ties to South Africa. In
January 1985 Jackson met with Pope John Paul II and asked the pontiff to visit South Africa in
order to hasten fundamental change in the white-minority-controlled country. Jackson met with
Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev to cut all diplomatic ties with South Africa.
Jackson worked tirelessly in the United States and internationally to broaden the coalition for
sanctions against the minority regime, eventually leading to the freeing of Nelson Mandela
whom he met upon his release in 1990 from Robben Island. He was among the first Americans
to meet Mandela as he was freed from prison, and was part of the official US delegation at the
Presidential inauguration and the founding of a new South Africa.
Coalition–Keeping Hope Alive
The Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a progressive organization protecting, defending and
expanding civil rights to improve economic and educational opportunity. The organization is
headquartered at 930 E. 50th St. in Chicago. For more information about the Rainbow PUSH
Coalition, please visit http://www.rainbowpush.org or call (773) 373-3366.