In December 1971, Rev. Jesse Jackson resigned from Operation Breadbasket after clashing with Rev. Ralph Abernathy and founded Operation PUSH, otherwise known as People United to Save Humanity. Operation PUSH was organized in Chicago in 1971 and has been one of the most important social justice organizations in the United States.
A prime focus during the late 1970s was Jackson’s “Push for Excellence” educational program. However, during the 1980s, the focus shifted to affirmative action in large corporations. Operation PUSH employed selective buying techniques as tactics for increasing corporate use of black banks, distributors, franchises, advertisers and purchasing from black-owned businesses. Operation PUSH was successful at raising public awareness to initiate corporate action and government sponsorship.
The program persuaded inner city youth to pledge in writing to study two hours per night, which increased parental monitoring. These actions impressed Jimmy Carter, whose administration became a large sponsor after Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Joseph Califano and Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall courted Jackson.
PUSH declined during the 1980s with Jackson’s pursuit of the presidency. In the mid-1990s, Jackson directed the merger of PUSH with the National Rainbow Coalition, a political organization he had founded a decade earlier, to form the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.