The Rev. Ira Acree and activists stood outside a hospital Monday, heads bowed in prayer for the recovery of the Rev. Jesse Jackson and his wife, Jacqueline, who were hospitalized for COVID-19 over the weekend.
The small gathering called for a national day of prayer on Wednesday to honor the Jacksons for their civil rights work and a speedy recovery.
Jackson, 79, and his wife, Jacqueline, 77, were admitted Saturday to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for COVID-19 treatment. They remained under observation Monday after family said they responded well to treatment.
“We are ever mindful that COVID-19 is a serious disease, and we ask that you continue in prayer for my parents, as we remain prayerful for yours,” their son Jonathan Jackson said in a statement Monday
Jesse Jackson, who has Parkinson’s disease, received his first dose of the vaccine publicly in January to encourage the Black community and others to receive the immunization. His wife has not been vaccinated, according to longtime family spokesman Frank Watkins. He declined to elaborate Monday.
“When many of us from the various communities of color was skeptical and suspicious about getting the vaccine, it was Rev. Jesse Jackson who took the vaccine to encourage us,” said Acree, a pastor at Greater St. John Bible Church.
Acree and other leaders prayed for the Jacksons’ recovery and repeated “I am — Somebody,” a poem often recited by Jackson.
“We are in the great civil rights battle of our lifetime,” activist Eric Russell said. “And it is the guidance and leadership of men like Rev. Jesse Jackson that empowers us, strategically, and gives us strength. So I would say to America, please send a prayer for Jesse Jackson.”
Jackson was hospitalized earlier this year for an unrelated gallbladder surgery but has remained active in the fight for civil rights. Last month, he was arrested for civil disobedience during a sit-in at the Phoenix office of Democratic U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who opposes ending the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation.
Passersby on the street stopped to sign a card Russell put together for the Jacksons, wishing them good health and wellness.
“Everybody owes Rev. Jackson whether they know it or not,” Acree said. “So, it’s only fair that we show him the same energy he has for us in the fight for equality and justice.”