As the first certified African-American high school teacher in California, Ida Jackson is a powerful picture of Civil Rights progress. She was born in 1920, in Vicksburg, Mississippi, to a former slave. Education was a priority in Jackson's family, and by the age of three she was reading, and soon taught her siblings. Destined to be a teacher, Jackson received a Masters degree from the University of California Berkeley, and pursued a doctorate at Columbia, feats almost unheard of for an African-American woman in the 1920s and something that moved mountains in the minds of many regarding African Americans and higher education. Later she became the national president of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the sorority she started in her first year at The University of California Berkeley, and through strategic networking and collaborative fundraising, eventually created the United State's first mobile health clinic system, The Mississippi Health Project whose volunteer doctors served thousands of people in the rural south. Twice she was invited to the White House, in 1934 and 1935, to speak with President and Mrs. Roosevelt regarding her work in Mississippi - empowering teachers and inoculating thousands of infants against diphtheria and cholera. She lived and worked with grace, kindness, and drive. Jackson eventually gave back to her University by creating a fellowship for African-American students seeking their doctorate degree at Berkeley. This fostered a relationship that the University still values. In 1971 she received the Berkeley Citation, awarded to alumni who exhibit the highest ideals of the University and was also elected into the Berkeley Fellows honorary Society. More recently, in 2004, Berkeley christened a set of newly renovated apartments the "Ida Louis Jackson Graduate House." Long after her death in 1996, her devotion to pioneering a way for African American educators will remain an inspiration for anyone working to break social barriers in society.
"I am more than ever convinced that education is the greatest factor in the upward climb of any person or people. My theme song has been: learn, study, read - continuously."