While he and his wife remain hospitalized in a Chicago hospital after positive COVID-19 tests, the Rev. Jesse Jackson told the Black Press that he remains vigilant in fighting for freedom, justice, and equality.
In an exclusive telephone conversation from his hospital bed on Sunday, the renowned civil rights leader expressed his ongoing support for vaccinations while explaining why his wife, Jacqueline, had not gotten one.
“I have had both my shots,” Rev. Jackson said in the telephone call from Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “My wife did not receive the vaccine because she has preexisting conditions that were of concern.”
Jackson maintained the importance of vaccination, noting that there are more stringent variants of the coronavirus.
He said he and Jacqueline are receiving the “best of care.”
The telephone call came just one day after his organization, the Rainbow Push Coalition, revealed the positive tests and hospitalization.
The call included National Newspaper Publishers Association President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., a longtime friend and comrade in the fight for civil rights.
Both disciples of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Jackson and Chavis expressed concern that some media members would exploit Jackson’s positive tests.
Jackson issued a reassurance of his strength.
“I’m doing fine,” he said. “My wife is here, and she’s being cared for.”
Though he’s battling Parkinson’s disease and now has been diagnosed with COVID-19, Jackson’s voice appeared strong.
He said his battle for freedom, justice and equality would continue.
“He’s a fighter, a warrior,” Chavis added.
Those who work closely with the couple were tested after Jacqueline Jackson visited her doctors for a routine checkup.
As per medical protocol, she received a coronavirus test, triggering doctors to test her husband and others.
The icon said he wasn’t sure when he or his wife might be discharged.
Since news of the couple’s illness and hospitalization, social media has seen a flood of well-wishers express love and prayers.
Texas Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro, Rev. Al Sharpton and King’s daughter Bernice King were among those who sent prayers for the couple.
“They need our sincere and intense prayers,” Sharpton said.
Castro added, “Sending strength and prayers to Rev. Jackson and his wife, Jacqueline.”
King also said she was “praying” for the family.
Jackson, 79, and Jacqueline, 77, have been married for nearly 60 years. The couple has six children.
In November 2017, doctors diagnosed Jackson with Parkinson’s disease, a central nervous system degenerative disorder.
Actor Michael J. Fox and the late Muhammad Ali count among the more famous sufferers of the disease, primarily affecting motor skills.
“I am doing OK,” Jackson said.