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Rev. Jesse Jackson Diagnosed With Parkinson's Disease

FILE - Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks during the third day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 27, 2016.

U.S. civil rights leader the Reverend Jesse Jackson disclosed Friday he has Parkinson's disease, a progressive neurological condition that affects body movement.

The 76-year-old Jackson issued a statement to supporters saying family and friends noticed changes in him about three years ago that prompted him to seek medical help.

"Recognition of the effects of this disease on me has been painful, and I have been slow to grasp the gravity of it," Jackson wrote. "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."

"For a while, I resisted interrupting my work to visit a doctor. But as my daily physical struggles intensified I could no longer ignore the symptoms, so I acquiesced," he said.

Northwestern Medical in the midwestern city of Chicago issued a statement saying Jackson was diagnosed in 2015 and that it has been administering outpatient treatment.

Jackson said Parkinson's "bested" his father, Noah Lewis Robinson Sr., who died in 1988 at the age of 88.

Jackson, a two-time candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in the 1980s, is the leader of the Chicago-based Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, a non-profit group dedicated to pursuing social justice and political and civil rights. For decades, Jackson has been a forceful advocate for equal and human rights, espousing issues such as voting rights and affordable housing.

The civil rights leader also said he is writing a memoir and "will continue to try to instill hope in the hopeless, expand our democracy to the disenfranchised, and free innocent prisoners around the world."

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