On April 16, Rev. Frederick Haynes III announced that he was stepping down as President and CEO of Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the civil rights organization founded by Rev. Jesse Jackson. He had only been in power for 11 weeks but said he ‘felt it was best’ to resign, effective immediately – without elaborating any further.

Who Is Rev. Frederick Haynes III?

Rev. Frederick Haynes III is the 63-year-old pastor at Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. He has been a senior pastor at the church since 1983, and describes himself as a ‘passionate leader, social activist, eloquent orator, and educator.’

Source: Flickr/Childrensdefensefund

Friendship-West had less than 100 members when Dr. Haynes joined more than 40 years ago, but the church has grown exponentially since then. Today, they host more than 13,000 members every Sunday – they’ve had to move several times to accommodate the growth.

Replaced Jesse Jackson In February

In July 2023, Jesse Jackson announced that he was stepping down as leader of Rainbow PUSH Coalition – citing a series of health issues over the past few years. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2017, and was hospitalized twice in 2021.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Jackson named Rev. Haynes III as his replacement, and he was sworn in as President and CEO in February – though his duties in the office really started the summer prior. Haynes III described Jackson as ‘one of my heroes’ and ‘one of the great leaders of all time.’

Rev. Haynes III Pens Resignation Letter

That brings us to Tuesday – when Rev. Haynes III penned his resignation letter on a Rainbow PUSH letterhead. He said he felt it was “necessary” to move on in light of “challenges that continue to exist, according to the Associated Press.

Source: Flickr/Charles Edward Miller

Haynes is no longer with Rainbow PUSH, but he hopes to collaborate with them again in the future and vows to continue his work ‘in the fight for liberation and freedom’. He didn’t give an exact reason for his abrupt resignation.

Tells AP He Was Honored To Serve As President

In an interview with the Associated Press, Haynes – who phoned in from Texas – expressed his gratitude for the opportunity. He understands his time as President and CEO was short-lived, but looks forward to the new chapter in his life.

Source: Flickr/Steve Rhodes

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

Jackson Accepts Haynes’ Resignation

Later in the day on April 16, Rev. Jesse Jackson released his response and confirmed that he had accepted Haynes’ resignation early that day. He added that they would remain ‘partners in the fight for peace, civil rights and economic justice.’

Source: Flickr/John Dalkin

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

What Is The Rainbow PUSH Coalition?

The Rainbow PUSH Collection, also known as RPC, is a ‘multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international membership organization fighting for social change,’ according to its official website. It was founded by Rev. Jackson in 1996, but its story really begins 30 years prior.

Source: Wikimedia/Marcel Antonisse

Jackson has yet to announce Haynes’ replacement but confirmed that his son, Yusef Jackson, will remain in his current role as chief operating officer (COO). In the meantime, let’s take a look at a brief history of the civil rights organization – starting back in 1966.

1966: MLK Appoints Jackson Director of Operation Breadbasket

Jesse Jackson started working for Martin Luther King Jr. in the mid-1960s. He gave Jackson a role in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) before naming him director of the SCLC’s Chicago-based Operation Breadbasket in 1966.

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Jackson was thriving in his role and was named national director in 1967, but things took a turn for the worse when MLK was assassinated on April 4, 1968 while standing on the second-floor balcony of his motel room. Jackson was in the parking lot at the time.

1971: Jackson Founded Operation P.U.S.H.

Jackson continued to work alongside the SCLC following MLK’s death, but ended up founding his own civil rights organization in 1971 following a fallout with Ralph Abernathy (chairman of SCLC). Jackson was joined by his former staff and 30 of 35 SCLC board members.

Source: Wikimedia/Rob Bogaerts

He called his new organization Operation P.U.S.H., an acronym for People United to Save Humanity (Save was later changed to Serve). It officially began operations on December 25, 1971.

1983: Jackson Announces Presidential Campaign

In November 1983, Rev. Jesse Jackson announced his plans to run for President of the United States. He became the second African-American to run for president as a Democrat, joining Shirley Chisholm on the list.

Source: Leonard Freed

Jackson was matched up against Walter Mondale and Gary Hart in the Democratic primaries. Jackson ended with 3,282,431 votes (18.1%) and 358 delegates. Mondale won the nomination, but Jackson won Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Washington DC.

1984: Jackson Forms National Rainbow Coalition

In 1984, following an unsuccessful (but successful in some ways) presidential campaign, Rev. Jackson created the National Rainbow Coalition. He had already stepped down as President of PUSH, which had been battling debt for some time.

Source: Flickr/Washington Area Spark

His goal with the Rainbow Coalition was to ‘unite progressive people, historically locked out of the mainstream of American politics, into a coalition of conscience dedicated to making America more inclusive.’

1988: Jackson Announces Second Presidential Campaign

In October 1988, Rev. Jackson announced his candidacy for president. He was a frontrunner to win the nomination, but Michael Dukakis stood in his way – and a young Al Gore wasn’t too far back. Jackson did better in the polls this time around, but not good enough.

Source: Wikimedia/Rob Bogaerts

He finished with 6,941,816 votes (29.34%) and 1,023 delegates – compared to Dukakis’ 10,024,101 votes (42.4%) and 1,792 delegates. Jackson won 13 states in total, most of which were southern states.

1996: Jackson Merges His Two Organizations

In 1996, Rev. Jackson merged Operation P.U.S.H. with Rainbow Coalition to form Rainbow PUSH Coalition – as it’s known today. The move came after Jackson served five years as a shadow senator between 1991 and 1996.

Source: San Diego College of Continuing Education

The organization is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to ‘protect, defend, and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields, and to promote peace and justice around the world.’

Rainbow PUSH Coalition Continues To Make An Impact

Rev. Jesse Jackson has done some incredible things over the past 60 years, and his Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a culmination of those efforts. While he has since stepped down as CEO, the organization continues to make an impact in communities across the US.

Source: Wikimedia/Salem State University Alumni and Friends

According to its website, PUSH has paid more than $6 million in scholarships to students who have attended 17+ colleges, facilitated the hiring of over 500 minority workers in the automotive and gas industry, and has provided financial assistance to 4,000+ families who face foreclosure.