NEW YORK – The Rev. Jesse Jackson was a longtime friend of the late Maynard Jackson Jr., and was among the many notables interviewed for “Maynard,” the documentary about Atlanta’s first black mayor.
He was scheduled to attend world Thursday’s premiere, held at New York’s IFC Center as part of the DOC NYC film festival, but did not make it. There’s a heartbreaking reason why. On Friday afternoon, Jackson revealed he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. In a release shared by the Rainbow Push Coalition, Jackson, 76, said that he has been “finding it increasingly difficult to perform routine tasks, and getting around is more of a challenge.”
He said he had been noticing changes for a while but resisted interrupting his work to see a doctor.
“But as my daily physical struggles intensified, I could no longer ignore the symptoms, so I acquiesced,” Jackson wrote.
Noting that Parkinson’s disease claimed his father, Jackson said he will use his experience to help others.
“It is an opportunity for me to use my voice to help in finding a cure for a disease that afflicts 7 to 10 million worldwide,” he said.
We happened to catch up with Jackson on the streets of Washington, DC, right after President Donald Trump was inaugurated in January:
Rev. Al Sharpton mentioned Jackson – his civil rights work, not his medical condition – at the Thursday premiere of “Maynard.” Both civil rights leaders were close allies of Jackson’s, both in and out of Jackson’s time in office. In fact, one anecdote Sharpton shared recalled a time when Jackson was preparing to leave public service for good.
On his way out, Jackson summoned Sharpton to Atlanta.
“I got there and there were police there. I said, ‘Oh God, what did I do now?'” Sharpton said. “He said, ‘Follow me!’ He shut me in a room with Shirley Franklin, who had become the new mayor. He said, ‘You guys need to know each other.'”
Sharpton was interviewed for “Maynard,” the documentary about Atlanta’s first black mayor. After its premiere here last night, he shared his thoughts about Maynard the man and “Maynard” the movie.
“It was unreal that the capital of the Confederacy would elect a black mayor,” Sharpton said. “He was the first black mayor that I know that talked about black folks making money.”
FROM THE AJC ARCHIVES: Maynard Jackson’s obituary
In the video clip below, Sharpton discusses the impact Jackson had on him.