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Controversial civil rights activist diagnosed with Parkinson's disease

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Longtime civil rights activist, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, announced Friday that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. (William Lovelace/Express/Getty Images)

Who?

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, a longtime civil rights activist, announced Friday that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

"My family and I began to notice changes about three years ago," Jackson said in a statement. "After a battery of tests, my physicians identified the issue as Parkinson's disease, a disease that bested my father."

He added, "[R]ecognition of the effects of this disease on me has been painful... [It is] a signal that I must make lifestyle changes and dedicate myself to physical therapy in hopes of slowing the disease's progression."

Jackson, now 76, was a key figure in civil rights demonstrations with Martin Luther King Jr. and has been involved in politics for decades. He is the founder of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the nonprofit organization that helped pay college tuition for Crystal Mangum, the woman who made false rape allegations against the Duke University lacrosse team in 2006. Jackson said at the time that regardless of whether Mangum was telling the truth, the tuition offer would still be good.

What is Parkinson's disease?

Parkinson's disease is a neurological disorder that causes tremors, slow muscle movements, stiffness, balance problems, and trouble walking. There is no known cure for the disease and it varies in its rate of progression in each individual.

Other well-known people diagnosed with Parkinson's disease includes former U.S. attorney general Janet Reno, actor Michael J. Fox, and boxer Muhammad Ali.

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