The Rev. Jesse Jackson to Provide Black History Month Keynote Lecture

Friday, January 7 2011

MOSCOW, Idaho – The Rev. Jesse Jackson, American civil rights activist and dynamic orator, will visit the University of Idaho on Monday, Feb. 7, as part of the university's Black History Month celebration.

Over the past 40 years, Jackson has played a pivotal role in virtually every movement for empowerment, peace, civil rights, gender equality, and economic and social justice. He is the president and founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, a multi-racial, multi-issue, international membership organization working for social change.

Jackson will present his address, entitled, "Keep Hope Alive," at 7:15 p.m. PT in the ASUI-Kibbie Activity Center, 1000 Stadium Way in Moscow. It is free and open to the public. It will be followed by a question-and-answer period.

"We are honored to bring Rev. Jackson to Moscow and to Idaho," said Mark Edwards, assistant to the president for diversity, equity and community. "As the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. said, 'Leadership cannot just go along to get along. Leadership must meet the moral challenge of the day.' The University of Idaho’s legacy of leading includes a rich history and tradition of providing diversity leadership through our curriculum, co-curriculum, service, outreach and engagement. We strive to meet the moral challenge of protecting human rights and providing access and inclusion for all on a daily basis as a central commitment and symbol of who we are as a community."

Edwards noted that Jackson's visit will help the university underscore this commitment.

"He models for us the vigor, passion, dedication and hard work necessary to achieve tangible change so that social justice is a reality and not simply a philosophy or aspiration," he said. "Students, faculty, staff, administration and community leaders will find a vision and direction for their own work towards a just and equitable society in which all can maximize their dreams and potential."

In addition to his evening lecture, Jackson will meet with 25 University of Idaho student leaders from various groups for a private discussion.

"The majority of our students are passionate about diversity-related issues," said Edwards. "They want to make the University of Idaho a welcoming and inclusive community for all. Each year, we offer many student diversity related programs, and one question is commonly asked, 'What can we do to get involved, to make our university community and world a better place?' What better person to ask than Rev. Jackson."

Black History Month is a celebration rooted in higher education. The heritage month began in 1920 at Harvard University by Carter G. Woodson in the Omega Psi Phi fraternity as a way to celebrate African American history and literature. Woodson chose the month of February in honor of the birthdays of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass. Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation and Douglass was one of the nation’s leading abolitionists. Originally called Negro History Week, the celebration was expanded in the 1970s to an entire month and the name was changed to Black History Month.

Jackson's full biography is available online:
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About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s land-grant institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year. The University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to be classified by the prestigious Carnegie Foundation as high research activity. The student population of 12,000 includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars, who select from more than 130 degree options in the colleges of Agricultural and Life Sciences; Art and Architecture; Business and Economics; Education; Engineering; Law; Letters, Arts and Social Sciences; Natural Resources; and Science. The university also is charged with the statewide mission for medical education through the WWAMI program. The university combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities and focuses on helping students to succeed and become leaders. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. For more information, visit

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit