Dr. Ida Louise Jackson (October 12, 1902 – March 8, 1996) was the first African American teacher in Oakland Public Schools and was one of the first African-American women to be certified to teach in the state of California. She was born in 1902 in Vicksburg, Mississippi to a former slave.
After graduating from Cherry Street High School in 1914, Jackson enrolled at Rust College, but transferred to New Orleans University (later Dillard University) where she graduated with a Normal Teaching Diploma and a certificate in home economics in 1917. After being told she was wasn't qualified to teach in Oakland, she enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley in 1920, when there were only 17 African American students on campus. She co-founded the Rho chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first African American sorority at Berkeley. Continuing at UC Berkeley in 1922, she earned her masters degree in 1924, then obtained her doctorate from Columbia University.
In 1926, she became the first African-American of either gender to teach in the Oakland Public Schools, and remained so teaching American History at both the elementary and high school level until 13 years later when another African-American woman, Beth Wilson, was hired. Dr. Jackson’s assignment to teach at Oakland’s Prescott Intermediate School "was met with protests," said Barbara K. Phillips, a former national president of Alpha Kappa Alpha, who came from North Carolina for the dedication ceremony. She described Dr. Jackson, one of her role models, as "a star in the fabric of existence." A large group of white teachers and administrators tried repeatedly to have Jackson reassigned from Prescott School, Phillips said. But her students — including white children — helped her through a period Jackson described as "the unpleasantries."
Dr. Jackson was also active in public health, and was the founder of the Mississippi Health Project which brought medical care to rural Mississippi, for whom she was general director for the eight years of its operation. Over 4,000 children and many adults were treated in these mobile clinics, which traveled from plantation to plantation throughout Mississippi.
As international president of her sorority (the 8th supreme basileus reference on her marker), she also started a program to train rural teachers during the Great Depression in 1934.
Dr. Jackson's written works include Development of Negro Children in Reference to Education (1923) and Librarians' Role in Creating Racial Understanding (1944). She received the Who's Who Among Colored Americans award in 1950.
In 1979 Dr. Jackson donated her ranch to U.C. Berkeley, specifying that the proceeds of its sale be used as graduate fellowships for black students pursuing degrees there.
Dr. Jackson lived at 1210 Excelsior Avenue for many of her years in Oakland.
Death and Burial
Ida Louise Jackson died in 1996 at the age of 93, and is buried at Mountain View Cemetery.
Links and References
- Graduate dorm named for a woman of many firsts, UC Berkeley News, May 2004
- some history about Ida Louise Jackson
- Overcoming Barriers in Education an interview of Ida Louise Jackson in 1984-85
- Ida Louise Jackson Lives of the Dead by Michael Colbruno
- The Fighting Spirit of Ida Louise Jackson UC Berkeley Library Update
- Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room and Maps Division
- Ida Louis Jackson photo from her estate via University of California, Berkeley
- Ida Louise Jackson Lookout Ranch