Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition kicks off its 46th annual international convention Wednesday at the Hilton Chicago.
During its four-day run, the convention will welcome more than 3500 visitors from around the country for workshops and panels featuring guests including Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Aretha Franklin.
The coalition will host a gubernatorial debate Friday open to the public at its headquarters, 930 E. 50th Street with seven candidates for the Democratic nomination to face incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner: Daniel Biss, Bob Daiber, Tio Hardiman, Chris Kennedy, Alexander Paterakis, Ameya Pawar and J.B. Pritzker.
The coalition will not endorse a candidate. “I want them to make the case to the people,” Rev. Jesse Jackson told the Sun-Times.
Thursday morning, Democratic National Committee Tom Perez will speak on labor; Friday, Sen. Warren will give the keynote address at a luncheon honoring Aretha Franklin and others; and Sen. Sanders will speak at a Saturday panel discussion hosted by Rev. Jackson. Other events include a Tech Expo for young people interested in STEM, a national oratorical competition and Saturday’s musical “Love Fest” to close out the weekend.
A civil rights organization formed in 1996 by Rev. Jackson, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund brings community leaders together every year to discuss social justice, education and the economy. This year’s theme is “Heal and Rebuild: A More Perfect Union.”
“People are excited because they’re so concerned about the direction of the country right now,” said Rainbow PUSH Press Secretary Don Terry. “They want to come together to discuss.”
Rev. Jackson said the convention will focus on voting rights and the rights of temporary workers, starting Wednesday with a ceremonial signing of the automatic voting registration bill, which the Illinois House passed in May.
“It’s more ambitious because we’re growing,” Jackson said.