Rev. Jesse Jackson leaves rehab facility after COVID-19 battle: 'The shot took me from death'

Civil Rights icon's wife Jaqueline Jackson was also treated for COVID-19

ByEvelyn Holmes and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, September 23, 2021
Rev. Jackson released from rehab facility after COVID-19 battle
Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr. has been released from a rehabilitation center following his battle with COVID-19 and Parkinson's disease.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr. was released from a rehabilitation center Wednesday following his battle with COVID-19 and Parkinson's disease.

"Thank God for leading the way to get me again to walk again on my own power, talking," he said.

The 79-year-old civil and human rights icon walked out of the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab Wednesday morning, having overcome coronavirus and successfully completing therapy for his Parkinson's disease.

"We've really been focusing on his strength, endurance, balance and his recovery," said Dr. Leslie Rydberg, Rev. Jackson's physician.

While Mrs. Jackson was discharged from the hospital weeks ago, for the past month, Jackson Sr. remained in rehab and had occupational and speech therapy, along with 60 to 90 minutes a day of physical therapy.

"I went from being a bruiser to a guru to a drill master, but he's so motivated. He loves moving, he loves working," said Talia Shapiro, Jackson's physical therapist.

Jacqueline Jackson, wife of Rev. Jesse Jackson, released from hospital after COVID treatment

Rev. Jackson, who is vaccinated and his wife who was not, were both hospitalized at Northwestern Memorial on august 21 after testing positive for the disease. He said he was asymptomatic and was shocked by the diagnosis.

He added that he spent 8 days in isolation as he once again urged everyone, especially those in Black and brown communities, to get the shot.

"The shot took me from death," Jackson said. "I never had a breathing issue, respiration. It couldn't take over me."

And with Rev. Jackson's recovery and release, his thoughts can turn back to the migrant crisis at the border and the plight of deported and displaced Haitians.

He's dispatching a delegation led by his son Jonathan, who is the national spokesperson for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, to the region.

"It's been a month, but it's been a great month and he's stronger now," Jonathan Jackson said.

And while Rev. Jackson is thankful for all the well-wishes, he continues to pray for those who have lost their loved ones to the coronavirus.

"I want to express my thanks to people. My wife and I are both so grateful," he said.