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*On this date in 1996, we celebrate the founding of Rainbow/PUSH. This is a nonprofit organization formed as a merger by Jesse Jackson.
Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity) and the National Rainbow Coalition. The organizations pursue social justice, civil rights, and political activism. In 1971, Jackson resigned from Operation Breadbasket after clashing with Ralph Abernathy and founded Operation PUSH. In 1984 Jackson founded the National Rainbow Coalition; it merged with PUSH in 1996. Operation PUSH raised public awareness to initiate corporate action and government sponsorship. The National Rainbow Coalition became a prominent political organization that raised public awareness of numerous political issues and consolidated a large voting bloc. The merged entity has undertaken numerous social initiatives.
The organization was very successful at committing major corporations with large presences in the black community to adopt affirmative action programs in which they hired more Black executives and supervisors and to buy from black suppliers, wholesalers, and distributors. The organization employed prayer vigils to call attention to issues. It opposed Ronald Reagan's workfare initiative requiring that welfare recipients work for part of their benefits.
The organization staged several boycotts, including early 1980s boycotts of Anheuser Busch and Coca-Cola as well as a 1986 boycott of CBS television affiliates. The boycotts became so well known that at one point David Duke supporters referred to a boycott of Nike, Inc. as oppression of whites by blacks. Nike spokesperson Michael Jordan disavowed the boycott. The boycotts of Budweiser and Coke as well as one against Kentucky Fried Chicken were touted for having won minority job concessions from white businesses. Former congressman Mel Reynolds, who served a sentence in prison for sexual assault and bank fraud, was hired by Rainbow/PUSH as its resident scholar on prison reform after his release in 2001.
The organization is a member of several anti-war coalitions including Win Without War, United for Peace and Justice, and After Downing Street. In the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, Jackson promised to raise money and collect donations for those affected. The organization set up drop-off locations in Chicago to assist with relief efforts. In 2006, Jackson promised the Rainbow/Push Coalition would pay Crystal Mangum's college tuition.
Mangum made false rape allegations against members of Duke University's men's lacrosse team who had hired her as a stripper. The charges were later dropped due to a lack of evidence. Jackson said that whatever the outcome of the trial, the tuition offer would still be good. The combined organization's national headquarters is on the South Side of Chicago and it has branches in Washington, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, Detroit, Houston, Atlanta, the Silicon Valley, New Orleans and Boston.