The Rev. Jesse Jackson Oral History Project was conceived by Chicago Theological Seminary as a way to preserve the stories of the Civil Rights Movement in Chicago. The archives are live and can be found HERE.


Chicago Theological Seminary, in partnership with the Chicago History Museum, presented an evening to introduce and celebrate the Jesse Jackson Oral History Project. During the evening, we previewed the oral archives captured from Rev. Jesse Jackson and other civil rights activists working in the Chicago Breadbasket Movement and converse with several interviewees, including Rev. Jackson himself. Additional guest speakers included Hermene Hartman, Rev. David Wallace, Rev. Janette C. Wilson, Rev. Martin Deppe, Mrs. Jacqueline Jackson, and Mrs. Betty Massoni.


The archives are live and can be found HERE.

This collection is arranged in six series based on creator/curator:

Series 1: Jesse Jackson includes the testimony of Rev. Jackson, a CTS alumni, Director of Operation Breadbasket and founder and President of Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Transcript of interview is also included. Jesse Jackson, interviewee.

Series 2: Betty Massoni includes the testimony of Betty Massoni, wife of late Chicago activist Rev. Gary Massoni. Betty Massoni, interviewee.

Series 3: Martin Deppe includes the testimony of Rev. Martin Deppe, Co-Founding Member of Operation Breadbasket, who was interviewed for this project. Martin Deppe, interviewee.

Series 4: David Wallace includes the testimony of Rev. David Wallace, former Chicago Branch Secretary for Operation Breadbasket, who was interviewed for this project. David M. Wallace, interviewee.

Series 5: Hermene Hartman includes the testimony of Hermene Hartman, activist in Operation Breadbasket and founder of N’DIGO Studio and publications. Hermene Hartman, interviewee.

Series 6: Janette Wilson includes the testimony of Rev. Janette C. Wilson, who currently serves as the Senior Advisor to Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., and National Director of PUSH. Dr. Janette Wilson, interviewee.


Logo for Our 7 Neighbors, Season 3: Birth of a Chicago Civil Rights Movement: Stories form the Archives

As part of the Jackson Oral History Project, CTS developed Season 3 of its podcast OUR 7 NEIGHBORS utilizing pieces of these interviews paired with contemporary leaders in activism and industry. Don’t miss this exciting, six-part podcast, featuring interviews with Jacqueline Jackson, wife of Rev. Jesse Jackson; Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ; Jim Seidler, Grocery Sales Manager for Jewel Foods; Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, the first woman to be elected as bishop in the history of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; Brandis Friedman, co-anchor and correspondent for “Chicago Tonight” on WTTW-Chicago; and Rev. Dr. Frederick Haynes, newly installed leader of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. LISTEN NOW!


In 1965, Rev. Jackson launched Operation Breadbasket (which later became Operation PUSH), a movement to help formally organize Chicago ministers to promote more employment opportunities for local Black folks. He was a student at CTS during the civil rights movement inMartin Deppe looks at photos the 60’s, and his time here at CTS shaped his career. He and his wife Mrs. Jackson both spoke of the value of a CTS education in their early formation. Through a generous grant from the Donnelley Foundation, CTS recently completed collecting an Oral History of Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr.’s civil rights work in Chicago that launched Operation Push. as a way to preserve the stories of the Civil Rights Movement in Chicago. Told by the people who lived and worked in the movement, these interviews are a window into a past that informs our present.

Interviewed by Rev. Brian E. Smith and Kim Schultz, the subjects include Rev. David Wallace, former Chicago branch secretary for Operation Breadbasket; Rev. Janette C. Wilson, Advisor to Rev. Jesse Jackson and Director of PUSH Excel; Rev. Martin Deppe, who worked with Operation Breadbasket; Hermene Hartman, founder of N’DIGO Studio and publications; Betty Massoni, wife of late Chicago activist Rev. Gary Massoni; and, of course, Rev. Jesse Jackson himself.

The Jackson Oral History Project has been an unprecendented opportunity to capture stories from key figures in the civil rights movement, documenting in vivid detail the birth of this movement in Chicago, highlighting the importance of Chicago Theological Seminary as an incubator in that movement.

For more information please email 

Kim Schultz @ [email protected]

Brian Smith @ [email protected]

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