by John Roberts, KultureKritic.com Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke this week to the Associated Press about the emotional struggles of dealing with the challenges being faced by his son, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. Jackson has, according to reports, been emotional about his son’s situation, and some are wondering if the Jackson family reputation has been affected by the recent scandal. At 71, he still keeps a hectic schedule and speaks extemporaneously on everything from voting rights to hostages in Gambia. But the head of one of America’s most prominent families struggles when addressing one thing: the son and heir to Jackson’s political influence who abandoned his congressional seat last week because of mental health problems and two federal investigations into his political dealings. Sitting in his office — among photographs of mentor Martin Luther King — the elder Jackson’s body tenses, he sighs and his eyes drift off. “My heart burns,” he told the Associated Press. “As I always say to my children, champions have to play with pain. You can’t just walk off the field because you’re hurt.” Since the election of an African American president, Rev. Jackson’s voice hasn’t earned the power in national media that it once did. Some remember his 40 years of hard work in the black community, but some discount that work and feel that the world has moved on without him. According to USA Today: These days, Jackson is more likely to seek out media attention rather than waiting for journalists to come to him. If his voice in national affairs is muted, it’s also because reporters don’t listen as closely as they used to. “He’s not the magnet for the press he once was,” said David Bositis of the Washington-based Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, who has known Jackson for years. Some say that it’s natural for a leader to become more low key as he gets older. Also, the nature of the civil rights struggle has evolved, and President Barack Obama now has most of the attention coming from the African American community. But some are wondering if Jackson’s recent silence is the result of the very public challenges of his son. Some think that the scandal may tarnish the family legacy, but others say that it doesn’t erase the heroic work that Rev. Jackson has been able to do. “Yeah, things might get damaged a bit,” said U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, a Chicago Democrat. “But you can’t erase the fact that Jesse Jackson Sr. has gone into foreign countries and brought back hostages that the state department could not get.” Jackson “has raised issues that nobody else would be raising at the time, and then ultimately other people would join in. And before you knew it, you had a movement.” Jesse Jackson Jr. was considered a rising star in national politics. He introduced his father at the 1988 Democratic National Convention and wrote a book with him. He also co-chaired President Obama’s first run for the White House. But during the investigation of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, it was determined that Jackson might have been connected with an agreement to raise money for the governor in exchange for President Obama’s old Senate seat. The junior Jackson has also been embarrassed by an extramarital affair and is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee. Recently, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, leading to a leave of absence of several months. Just this week, he resigned from office. Despite the challenges being faced by his family, Rev. Jackson continues to work hard. Just this week, he wrote an article about violations of the rights of inmates’ families in Chicago jails. He also continues to get respect abroad that most American politicians do not receive. He travels overseas nearly every month and maintains his radio show. He is determined to be as consistent in fighting for civil rights as he has been for the last four decades.