Exclusive: New Rainbow PUSH President Rev. Dr. Frederick Haynes III speaks 1-on-1 with ABC7

Vice President Kamala Harris was in attendance at the Rainbow PUSH Convention in Chicago as Rev. Jackson named his successor

Tre Ward Image
Monday, July 17, 2023
New Rainbow PUSH pres. speaks exclusively with ABC7
New Rainbow PUSH President Rev. Dr. Frederick Haynes III, successor to Rev. Jesse Jackson, speaks with ABC7 in first TV interview.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- In an exclusive one-on-one interview with ABC7, Rev. Dr. Frederick Douglass Haynes III spoke for the first time after officially taking the helm as president and CEO of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

Haynes said he's not looking to fill the shoes of Jesse Jackson, but instead, he will stand on his shoulders and continue the work Jackson started in 1971.

The continued fight for civil rights has now led one of the pioneers of that movement, Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr., to tap his mentee, a Texas pastor, to lead the coalition he has spearheaded since 1971.

"Jesse Jackson, for me, has just meant so much," Haynes said.

"I have spoken a number of times for the Rainbow PUSH Convention, and that was enough for me," Haynes said. "And then when he made the phone call and asked to consider succeeding him... that's just over the top."

Haynes, who is supported by his wife of 35 years and their one daughter, was born in 1960 in Dallas. That is where he served as senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church since 1983, growing the membership from 100 to 13,000 members.

Haynes met Jackson in 1981, and he learned all he could from the civil rights icon.

The mentorship paved the way for Hayne's own work that he hopes to bring to Chicago and beyond.

"What he has established, by way of a foundation, has also provided a road map," Haynes said.

While Haynes is the new head of Rainbow PUSH, effective immediately, he made it very clear that there's no replacing the man who started this movement more than 50 years ago.

"He's achieved iconic status," Haynes said. "He's a legend in our time. When the history books are written, it could well be said that he will stand as one of the greatest leaders in American history."

Haynes said he will continue to live in Dallas and remain his church's senior pastor, however, the Rainbow PUSH headquarters will stay in Chicago. Haynes called it part of the fabric of the city.

Rev. Jesse Jackson's successor Rev. Frederick Douglass Haynes was named president of Rainbow PUSH Sunday with VP Kamala Harris in attendance.

Vice President Kamala Harris was in attendance as Jackson introduced his successor on Sunday.

Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in Chicago to attend the Rainbow PUSH convention's transition of leadership at Rev. Kesse Jackson Sr. steps down.

Jackson is transitioning to emeritus status, an organization spokesperson said. He addressed attendees Saturday, saying he is neither resigning nor retiring, but making room for new leaders.

"We have work to do," Jackson said. "We are not leaving. We are expanding."

President Joe Biden released a statement on the transition of power:

The promise of America is that we are all created equal in the image of God and deserve to be treated equally throughout our lives. While we've never fully lived up to that promise, we've never fully walked away from it because of extraordinary leaders like Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr.

Throughout our decades of friendship and partnership, I've seen how Reverend Jackson has helped lead our nation forward through tumult and triumph. Whether on the campaign trail, on the march for equality, or in the room advocating for what is right and just, I've seen him as history will remember him: a man of God and of the people; determined, strategic, and unafraid of the work to redeem the soul of our nation.

Jill and I are grateful to Reverend Jackson for his lifetime of dedicated service and extend our appreciation to the entire Jackson family. We look forward to working with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition as he hands the torch to the next generation of leadership, just as we will continue to cherish the counsel and wisdom that we draw from him.

"So, Rainbow PUSH, it's about to go down like four flat tires because we are standing, not in the shoes of Jesse Jackson, but on the shoulders of Jesse Jackson," Haynes said during a speech at the event.