American civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, 76, who emerged as a key figure in the civil rights movement in the 1960s alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., announced Friday that he's been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Jackson revealed the news in a letter to his supporters, saying he was diagnosed back in 2015 with the Parkison's disease. 

Parkison's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that results from loss of cells in various parts of the brain that control movement.  The disease has no cure and causes tremors, stiffness, and difficulty balancing and walking. His father was also afflicted with the disease. 

“After a battery of tests, my physicians identified the issue as Parkinson’s disease, a disease that bested my father,” Jackson writes.

“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,” Jackson added.

"Now in the latter years of my life, at 76 years old, I find it increasingly difficult to perform routine tasks, and getting around is more of a challenge," Jackson writes.

"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."

According to a statement from Northwestern Medicine, Jackson has been undergoing outpatient care. 

Read the statement below:

Jesse Jackson

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