Politics and Government
What popular African Americans sought the U.S. presidential nomination in recent years?
In 1984 Jesse Louis Jackson (1941–) was the first black American to be a viable candidate for the presidential nomination. Jackson was born in South Carolina and educated at the University of Illinois and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College (later University). He was ordained a Baptist minister in 1968, after studying at the Chicago Theological Seminary. He was a field director for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and in 1967 was named by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to head its Operation Breadbasket, which he had helped found. A close associate of Martin Luther King Jr., Jackson left the SCLC in 1971, and founded Operation PUSH (later called People United to Serve Humanity) in Chicago. He also founded the National Rainbow Coalition, a civil rights group. In 1983 Jackson launched a major voter-registration drive among black Americans and toward the end of the year declared his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. Jackson ran in a large number of Democratic primary elections in 1984, finishing a strong third to former Vice President Walter Mondale and Senator Gary Hart. In 1987 Jackson again ran unsuccessfully for president. From 1991 to 1997 he served as a shadow senator for Washington, D.C.
Alan L. Keys (1950–), federal government official and diplomat, announced his candidacy for the U.S. presidency in 1995, and became the first Republican African American in the twentieth century to seek that office. His poor showing failed to deter him from a second run for the GOP nomination in 2000. Al Sharpton (1954–) religious leader and community activist, formed a new political party, the Freedom Party, in 1994. He had an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate, and in 2003 became a Democratic candidate for the presidential election. He ended his campaign the next year.