In 1983, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a famous civil rights leader, announced his plan to run for President. Jackson ran in 1984 and 1988, and received 6.7 million votes in the 1988 presidential primary election, putting him solidly in third place. Jackson's two campaigns were important because they showed the key role black people play in national politics. Today, Jackson remains the nation's most well known black political leader. A group he founded in 1984 called the Rainbow Coalition today remains active in promoting civil rights for all minorities.
Black participation in politics didn't start with Jackson. In 1870, 113 years before Jackson's run for the President, Hiram Revels of Mississippi was elected the nation's first black U.S. Senator. Revels was a pastor and defied the law by allowing slaves to worship in his church. He also started a school to teach black children to read and write. In 1968, Shirley Chisholm became the country's first black congresswoman. Today, many black leaders hold important positions in government, including our Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, who is in charge of U.S. relations with other countries.
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