Posted on April 19, 2024

Rainbow PUSH Leader’s Quick Exit Underscores Challenge of Following Rev. Jackson

Mitchell Armentrout, Chicago Sun-Times, April 18, 2024

The abrupt resignation of a Dallas pastor after less than three months as head of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition underscores how daunting a task it’ll be for anyone to carry the mantle of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, longtime confidants of the civil rights standardbearer told the Sun-Times.

It’s still not clear why the Rev. Frederick Haynes III suddenly resigned Tuesday as president of the legendary South Side social justice organization, whose reach, thanks to Jackson, has extended worldwide for decades.

But former Rainbow PUSH insiders and longtime allies of the coalition agreed Haynes’ short-lived appointment was hamstrung from the beginning by a split commitment with his Texas megachurch — and it raises more questions about the future of the organization.

“For [Haynes] to be here and there — it was impossible,” said Hermene Hartman, founder of the Black Chicago publication N’DIGO. {snip}

“To fill Rev. Jackson’s shoes requires a person who can do multiple things at the same time: raise money, stay on top of the issues, be political and act as caretaker for communities worldwide,” Hartman said. “He was trained by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We’re talking about rare people. Masterminds.”

She called Haynes “a brilliant minister. But he may not have been the right person to carry the movement.”

Haynes, pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, was formally installed as president of Rainbow PUSH in February, though Jackson, 82, named him his successor last summer.


Public relations executive Jerry Thomas, a former adviser and strategist for Jackson at Rainbow PUSH, said people underestimate the demands of being the face of the organization and its driving force behind the scenes.

“It’s the most difficult job in Black America,” he said. “You might meet the best preacher, or the best politician, or activist, but this man could do it all.”

That includes serving as chief fundraiser for a group that has hit tough financial straits in recent years, according to sources close to Rainbow PUSH and federal records. The Citizenship Education Fund, a tax-exempt nonprofit affiliated with the coalition, has reported revenue declines since 2020, with an operating loss of more than $620,000 in 2022.

“When I look at PUSH right now, I don’t know who can ever replace him. I don’t see it on the horizon,” Thomas said. “I think he’s the last we’ll see in that line of work in the social justice movement.”