In a statement, Jackson said: "After a battery of tests, my physicians identified the issue as Parkinson's disease, a disease that bested my father".
In a statement released through his Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Jackson said he and his family began noticing changes in his health 3 years ago.
United States civil rights activist Jesse Jackson has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
Rev. Jesse Jackson shakes hands prior to a vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Va., on October 4, 2016.
The Rev. says the effects of the disease have been painful and he finds it increasingly challenging to perform daily tasks, but adds it's not a stop sign for him.
Every year, roughly 60,000 Americans will be diagnosed with Parkinson's, a neurological disease with no cure.
Jackson detailed the diagnosis in a letter addressed to "friends and supporters".
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Parkinson's - which is often hereditary - is a degenerative disease that causes trembling in the body as well as other less severe symptoms like anxiety, depression, constipation and insomnia. About 15 percent to 25 percent of Parkinson's patients have a family member with the disease.
Jackson has been a leader in the American Civil Rights movement since the 1960s, when he marched with Martin Luther King Jr, and helped fundraise for the cause. He twice ran for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, in 1984 and 1988.
The diagnosis was made in 2015, and Jackson said he was concentrating on "lifestyle changes", physical therapy to slow disease progression, and on writing his memoir.
In 2014, he spoke out about the shooting death of 18-year-old Ferguson, Mo., resident Michael Brown that led to protests and sparked national debate about race and law enforcement.
"I will continue to try to instil hope in the hopeless, expand our democracy to the disenfranchised and free innocent prisoners around the world", he said in the letter. This diagnosis is personal but it is more than that.
"I will need your prayers and graceful understanding as I undertake this new challenge".