Supreme Court Justice Joy Virginia Cunningham statement on Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Retirement from Rainbow PUSH Coalition 

Justice Joy Virginia Cunningham makes a personal statement on the career and accomplishments of leader, Reverend Jesse Jackson upon his retirement from the Rainbow-PUSH Coalition

July 15, 2023 – Justice Cunningham issues the following statement:

The Reverend Louis Jesse Jackson (affectionately known as just “Reverend”), is one of the most prominent and influential figures in the history of the American Civil Rights movement in the 20th and 21st centuries. He was a protégé of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and as such was literally and figuratively an eyewitness to history.  He participated in the 1963 March on Washington, the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March and the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers March among scores of other marches and boycotts to gain the rights promised to all Americans.

Reverend was selected by Dr. King to participate in the activities of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and became the National Director of Operation Breadbasket which was a major force in the war on poverty and equal employment rights.

 He also ran for President of the United States in 1984 and 1988.

Reverend Jackson founded Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity) in 1971 to focus on the economic conditions of Black and downtrodden communities. In 1984 he founded the National Rainbow Coalition which focused on equal rights. In 1996 Reverend merged the two organizations to form the Rainbow-PUSH Coalition.

On July 14, 2023, Reverend Jackson announced that he was stepping down as President of the Rainbow – PUSH Coalition. This news reverberated throughout the Black community in the Chicago area and beyond.

I am currently a Justice of the Supreme Court of Illinois.  I can say unequivocally that as a first-generation lawyer and now a Justice of our state’s highest court, my journey the path for my journey was paved by the work of Reverend Jesse Jackson and Operation PUSH. I credit him personally, with helping me in very basic and practical ways when I sought a seat on the  Appellate Court  of Illinois. His help and wisdom were invaluable to me and set the stage for my current appointment to our Supreme Court.  His actions then and now, inspire me to do my best for the residents of Illinois each and every day. 

Reverend has been a fearless advocate for candidates, activists, leaders  and just plain ordinary folks across our country and around the world.  His presence in our lives assures us that no one climbs a mountain alone. 

He inspires me to have courage, conviction, and strength in serving the people of Illinois, just as he has done for decades.

I wish him all the best in this next chapter of his life.  While I want him to enjoy a well-earned retirement, I suspect we have not seen nor heard the last of him as he “pivots” from the day-to-day stress of running an organization such as Rainbow – PUSH. I like everyone else whose life he has touched,  are glad that “Reverend” will continue to be involved in those important things that have come to characterize his life  


About Justice Joy V. Cunningham:

Joy V. Cunningham received her law degree from University of Illinois Chicago, John Marshall Law School. She has had a very diverse legal career, including serving as senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary for the Northwestern Memorial Healthcare System; Cook County Circuit Court Judge; Assistant Illinois Attorney General; Civil Litigator; Associate General Counsel of Loyola University; and first black woman President of the Chicago Bar Association, the nation’s largest municipal bar association. She was elected to the Illinois Appellate Court in 2006 and has served as chair of the Executive Committee as well as co-chair of the Diversity Committee of the Appellate Court for the First Judicial District. Justice Cunningham is active in judicial education and mentorship. She serves on a variety of not-for-profit boards and has been involved with organizations which educate and foster civic knowledge within the community at large. In December 2022, the Illinois Supreme Court selected Justice Cunningham to suceed retiring Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke. Justice Cunningham has served at all levels of the judiciary in the State of Illinois.


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