NATIONAL -- Civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson has revealed he is battling Parkinson's disease. 

He posted on an open letter on the official website of his organization, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition

Jackson wrote in part, "After a battery of tests, my physicians identified the issue as Parkinson’s disease, a disease that bested my father. Recognition of the effects of this disease on me has been painful, and I have been slow to grasp the gravity of it. 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."

He continued, "I am far from alone. God continues to give me new opportunities to serve. This diagnosis is personal but it is more than that. It is an opportunity for me to use my voice to help in finding a cure for a disease that afflicts 7 to 10 million worldwide. Some 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s every year. I will continue to try to instill hope in the hopeless, expand our democracy to the disenfranchised and free innocent prisoners around the world. I'm also spending some time working on my memoir so I can share with others the lessons I have learned in my life of public service. I steadfastly affirm that I would rather wear out than rust out." 

You can read a full statement here

Born in Greenville, South Carolina, Jackson was an influential civil rights leader over the years, organizing movements and protests like the Montgomery Bus Boycott. He was a leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference before founding Rainbow PUSH. Jackson attended Greensboro's North Carolina A&T State University for his undergraduate studies. 

He vyed for the democratic nomination for president in both 1984 and 1988, and was a shadow U.S. senator for the District of Columbia from 1992 to 2000.