Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr.’s statement on death of Rev. Frank E. Watkins

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Friday, September 16, 2022

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.’s statement on death of Rev. Frank E. Watkins


Rev. Frank E. Watkins, public policy director for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition who was the longest serving staff member of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, died Friday, September 16, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

Frank was one of my dearest and most trusted friends. He was a political ally for more than 50 years. I, along with my family and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, mourn Frank Watkins today.

Frank was my longest-serving staff member having worked with me since May 1, 1969. We lost a pillar of freedom, justice, and equality. He was an organizer of picket lines and broke down barriers. He defended the poor. He defied his cultural upbringing. He transcended races of many dimensions.  We buried each other’s parents.

Frank was a minister, an intellectual, an activist and a freedom fighter. He finally convinced his mother and father that there was nothing wrong with him. He had just found Jesus, the revolutionary. He did not just admire Jesus. He followed Him.

My children call him “Uncle Frank.” Several of my children have known him for all their lives. He organized my son, former Congressman Jackson’s, campaign. He was a close and cherished advisor to me.

He left “with his boots on,” fighting against voter suppression and for the constitutional right to vote.

I miss him so much already. I loved and admired Frank Watkins.



Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international organization that was formed in December 1996 by the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. through merging of two organizations he founded Operation PUSH People United to Serve Humanity (estab. 1971) and the Rainbow Coalition (estab. 1984). With headquarters in Chicago and offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Oakland, the organization works to
make the American Dream a reality for all citizens while advocating for peace and justice around the world. RPC is dedicated to improving the lives of all people by serving as a voice for the voiceless. Its mission is to protect, defend and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields while promoting peace and justice around the world.