Jesse Jackson diagnosed with Parkinson's disease
© Greg Nash

The Rev. Jesse Jackson announced on Friday that he's been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. 

"For me, a Parkinson's diagnosis is not a stop sign but rather a signal that I must make lifestyle changes and dedicate myself to physical therapy in hopes of slowing the disease's progression," Jackson said in a statement Friday. 

He and his family had previously noticed several symptoms, he said. 


"I will continue to try to instill hope in the hopeless, expand our democracy to the disenfranchised and free innocent prisoners around the world. I'm also spending some time working on my memoir so I can share with others the lessons I have learned in my life of public service," he continued. "I steadfastly affirm that I would rather wear out than rust out."

Jackson, 76, is a longtime Democratic political activist who began working in the civil rights movement under Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the 1960s. He ran for as a Democratic presidential candidate twice in the 1980s.

Jackson's father also suffered from the disease. His son, Jesse Jackson Jr., previously served as a Democratic congressman for Illinois.  

Updated 1:08 p.m.