WASHINGTON – US civil rights activist the Rev. Jesse Jackson revealed on Friday that he is suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
“My family and I began to notice changes about three years ago,” Jackson, 76, said in a statement. “After a battery of tests, my physicians identified the issue as Parkinson’s disease, a disease that bested my father.”
The two-time presidential hopeful acknowledged that “recognition of the effects of this disease on me has been painful.”
While vowing to continue with his activism on behalf on human rights and social justice, Jackson said he was treating the diagnosis as “a signal that I must make lifestyle changes and dedicate myself to physical therapy in hopes of slowing the disease’s progression.”
After taking part in the civil rights struggle alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other prominent figures, Jackson garnered millions of votes in his unsuccessful bids for the 1984 and 1988 Democratic presidential nominations.
He has also been involved in negotiations for prisoner releases, including a case in the 1990s when he secured the release of three US military personnel being held in the former Yugoslavia.
Parkinson’s disease afflicts around 1 million people in the United States.