A memorial service for Rev. Frank Edward Watkins, the former policy director for both Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., and his son, former Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr, will be held 12 noon, Saturday, October 22, 2022, at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition headquarters, 930 E. 50th St.
The longest staffer who worked for 51 years at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Rev. Watkins passed on Friday, September 16, 2022, at the age of 79 just one day before his 80th birthday.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Rev. Watkins was the only son of John Franklin and Mollie Ruby Fowler Watkins. Although his initial aspirations were to become a professional baseball player, after graduating from Anderson University in 1965 with a degree sociology and in 1968 earning a Master of Divinity, he pastored a storefront church on “Skid Row” in Chicago.
But, the seeds of his real passion were planted on December 25, 1971, the day Rev. Jackson began Operation Breadbasket. That was the day Rev. Jackson hired Rev. Watkins.
He became the go-to-guy for political advice at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition where he worked on Rev. Jackson’s 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns.
Rev. Watkins, who was former Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Rev. Jackson’s policy director, was also a speech writer and edited several of Rev. Jackson’s and his son’s books.
Rev. Watkins served for 17 years as former Congressman Jackson’s communications and policy director and co-authored his book, “A More Perfect Union.” He also was a guest speaker on Rev. Jackson’s radio program, “Keep Hope Alive” and Rev. Jackson’s daughter’s, Santita Jackson, radio talk show.
Before he died, Rev. Watkins established The Trust of Frank E. Watkins, P.O. BOX 70925, Washington, D.C. 20024, to continue his lifelong battle of pushing voter rights.
Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international organization that was formed in December 1996 by the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. through merging of two organizations he founded Operation PUSH People United to Serve Humanity (estab. 1971) and the Rainbow Coalition (estab. 1984). With headquarters in Chicago and offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Oakland, the organization works to make the American Dream a reality for all citizens while advocating for peace and justice around the world. RPC is dedicated to improving the lives of all people by serving as a voice for the voiceless. Its mission is to protect, defend and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields while promoting peace and justice around the world.