MR. J. GARFIELD JACKSON, SR. (1912 - 2006)
J. Garfield Jackson, Sr. departed on December 4, 2006 at East Orange General Hospital in East Orange, NJ. He was 94.
Riding with sister Hattie Jackson in 1918 at age 7 (l) Parents Mr. & Mrs. Katie and Ellison Jackson (m) Young Mr. J Garfield Jackson (r)
For those that know him, J. Garfield Jackson, Sr. and education are practically synonymous. In 1980, this recognition brought Mr. Jackson one of his highest honors – an elementary school in his name. J. Garfield Jackson, Sr. Academy stands as a physical testimonial to the lifelong mission of the man for whom it is named.
Born on April 28, 1912 in Americus, Georgia, the second of five children to Katie Clark Jackson and Ellison Jackson, Mr. Jackson has spent his life guided by the following dictum: “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.” Even as a young high school student, Mr. Jackson broke racial barriers, thus beginning his ongoing quest for educational, social, and economic equality. He was the first African American to be elected co-captain of the football team at Glassboro High School, and despite mounting pressure and resistance, Mr. Jackson successfully fought for the integration of a victory banquet for his championship winning team.
Connecticut Public Schools, 1928 -grammar school diploma (left) ,
Glassboro State Normal School, 1935- College Diploma (right)
He later went on to graduate from Glassboro State Normal School (formerly Glassboro State College, now Rowan University) with a degree in elementary education. In 1935, Mr. Jackson began his career in education as a teaching principal in the Elk Township, NJ School District. His involvement with parents, students and the community – including his founding of the first Gloucester County Chapter of the NAACP in 1947 – drew the attention of the East Orange, NJ School District, which recruited him as the first African American teacher in 1951.
From 1951 until
his retirement in 1980, Mr. Jackson promised and delivered unwavering support
to thousands of young children pursuing educational excellence in New Jersey
schools. As a teacher, assistant principal and recreational supervisor, Mr.
Jackson was a positive role model and encouraging voice for every student
who crossed his path. In 1962 he was appointed principal of Henry E. Kentopp
School, becoming the first African American principal in Essex County. He
served as principal at Kentopp until 1972, and then as Interim Superintendent
of the East Orange School District and Director of Principals until his retirement.
NJ General Assembly Citation as first Black Principal in East Orange, New Jersey (l) , and Facade of Jackson Academy - named for his legacy (r)
Exemplary leadership and a commitment to community service have been the hallmark of Mr. Jackson’s life. He has served as President of the Lions Club, Men of Essex, the Essex Area Arts Council, New Jersey Alliance of Black Educators, and Chairman of the Black Issues Convention Education Committee. Additionally, he has served as President of the East Orange Education Association, Treasurer of the Essex County Principals’ Association, Chairman of the New Jersey Education Association Delegate Assembly Human Rights Committee, and as a Governor-appointed Chair of the Board of Trustees of New Jersey Adult Prisons. Mr. Jackson was a member of Union Baptist Church in Orange, NJ for more than 50 years and served as the first Chairman of the Finance Committee. Other special honors also include being inducted into the Glassboro High School’s Sports Hall of Fame and having the library at Mildred E. Barry School carry his name.
Former President of the East Orange Lions Club (left) and The Men of Essex (w/ Tennis Legend Mr. Aurther Ashe at annual Youth Sports Award Banquet)
As a young child, Mr. Jackson developed a distinct interest in Africa via his exposure to Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Trips to Ghana, Ivory Coast, Benin and other countries were an incredible inspiration to him. In the early 90s, he was given the honor of sitting on the Board of the Unity Home Lodge, a guest house situated in Accra, Ghana. Founded by his youngest sister, the late Mrs. Jessie Arnold, this hospitality service assisted other African Americans in realizing similar dreams of visiting the continent. An international traveler and avid golfer, he attended four Summer Olympic Games in Montreal, Barcelona, Seoul and Atlanta where (in the latter three - his nephew Dennis Mitchell competed). At the age of 83, he proudly stood beside his sons J. Garfield Jr. and Alan at the historic Million Man March held in 1995.
Clark/Jackson Family Reunion - w/ eldest son J. Garfield, Jr. (right) and nephew 3 time Olympian Dennis Mittchell and Departing for Million Man March- photographed here with Rev. Reginald T. Jackson of St. Matthews AME Church (right)
Shortly after his retirement, Mr. Jackson founded Metro Educational Consulting Services, Inc., an educational consulting firm, which provided school leaders with recommendations and evaluations for improvement. In fact, Mr. Jackson served as a consultant to the New Jersey State Department of Education during a critical period of educational reform and statewide turnovers in the 1990s. J.Garfield Jackson, Sr. married his high school sweetheart Ms. Angenetta Still in 1937. Preceded in death by his son, the late Alan L. Jackson, Esq., he is survived by his wife; children Anita L. Jackson and J. Garfield Jackson, Jr.; daughters-in-law Gwendolyn Jackson and Valerie Branch Jackson; granddaughters Consuelo, Ayana and Jae Bianca; and a host of relatives and friends.