Religion

New leader of Jesse Jackson’s civil rights organization steps down just months on the job

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CHICAGO (AP) — A Dallas pastor who took over leadership of the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s longtime civil rights organization resigned Tuesday just months after he took the job.

The Rev. Frederick Haynes III told The Associated Press that he submitted a letter with his resignation as head of the Chicago-based Rainbow PUSH Coalition, effective immediately.

“After a time of prayer and consultation, I felt it was best to step down as president and CEO of Rainbow PUSH,” he said by phone from Texas. “I am forever honored that the Rev. Jackson graciously considered me worthy of following him as president of the organization that he founded.”

Haynes, 63, said he felt it was “necessary” to move on in light of “challenges that continue to exist,” but declined to elaborate further. His resignation letter, written on Rainbow PUSH letterhead, also did not go into details about his decision.

In a statement issued late Tuesday, Jackson said the organization accepted Haynes’ resignation and they would remain “partners in the fight for peace, civil rights and economic justice.”

Jackson said his son, Yusef Jackson, an attorney, would continue to serve as the organization’s chief operating officer. He did not mention the prospects of choosing another president and CEO.

“We will carry on the vital work of protecting, defending, and gaining civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields,” Jesse Jackson said. “Our commitment to promoting peace and justice around the world remains unwavering.”

The civil rights leader announced in July that he would step down from the organization he founded more than 50 years ago, and he introduced Haynes as his successor.

Haynes, the pastor at Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, was formally installed as president and CEO in a February ceremony in that city. He planned to lead Rainbow PUSH, which advocates for social justice and political activism, from Texas. He has been senior pastor since 1983 at Friendship-West, which has about 13,000 members, according to the church.

Haynes said that even though the formal takeover was in February, he hit the ground running over the summer with duties in the office and hoped he could collaborate with Rainbow PUSH and Jackson in the future.

“He remains one of my heroes. He remains one of the great leaders of all time,” Haynes said.

In his resignation letter, he said he plans to continue his work “in the fight for liberation and freedom.”

Jackson — who was pivotal in the modern Civil Rights Movement — has faced numerous health issues in recent years and has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Still, the 82-year-old two-time presidential candidate hasn’t shied away from the public eye.

Jackson appeared at a packed Chicago City Council meeting in January to support a controversial resolution for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war.

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