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Dallas minister Frederick Douglass Haynes succeeds Jesse Jackson as Rainbow PUSH Coalition leader

Frederick Haynes, senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church, during Project Unity's "Together We Test" coronavirus testing in May 2020.
Cooper Neill for NPR
Frederick Douglass Haynes III, senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church, during Project Unity's "Together We Test" coronavirus testing in May 2020.

Dallas minister Frederick Douglass Haynes III has succeeded longtime civil rights icon Jesse Jackson as leader of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

Haynes, the senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church, was formally introduced during the Rainbow PUSH Coalition's 57th annual conference on Sunday.

Vice President Kamala Harris praised Haynes at Sunday's conference.

"I have known him and worked with him for over 20 years, including when we worked together years and years ago in the early days of the criminal justice reform movement," she said. "And I am so confident in his leadership and his ability to carry on the greatest traditions of this organization and to meet the challenges of this moment. "

The vice president described Jackson as "one of America’s greatest patriots, someone who deeply believes in the promise of our country, a fighter for freedom and human rights for all people."

Jackson, a protégé of Dr. Martin Luther King and a former presidential candidate, announced Saturday that he was stepping down. The 81-year-old Jackson has grappled with a number of health problems in recent years, including Parkinson’s Disease. Jackson founded the international human and civil rights organization.

"I am looking forward to this next chapter where I will continue to focus on economic justice, mentorship, and teaching ministers how to fight for social justice,” Jackson said in a statement sent out by the coalition on Saturday. “I will still be very involved in the organization and am proud that we have chosen Rev. Dr. Haynes as my successor."

Haynes was described as a long-time student of Rev. Jackson who has and has “spoken to and for Rainbow PUSH Coalition frequently.”

“He has also formed alliances with local and national community leaders, and federal officials, to fight social injustice, domestic violence, and poverty,” according to the coalition statement. “As a reflection of his commitment to community transformation and social consciousness, Dr. Haynes has served in various leadership capacities in organizations that champion social change and education.”

Haynes praised the coalition’s work in the statement.

"The role Rainbow PUSH Coalition plays today is just as critical as it was in 1963, when the organization was founded,” he said. “Our communities need organizations like Rainbow PUSH to not only continue the fight for justice and equality, but to shepherd the next generation of advocates into the movement."

Haynes has served as the senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church since 1983. According to a church biography, Friendship-West grew from fewer than 100 members to more than 13,000 under his leadership.

He’s a Dallas native whose father also was a minister. His family moved to California, where Hayne’s father served as the pastor of the Third Baptist Church in San Francisco. Haynes later returned to the Dallas area, where he got his bachelor’s degree from Bishop College. His theological studies took him to the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and he received a Doctor of Ministry from the Graduate Theological Foundation, which brought to him to Christ Church, Oxford University in Oxford, Great Britain, for studies.

Haynes is well-known for his work as a community activist in Dallas. His church supports a number of social justice programs.

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