By Othor Cain,
A man that has given so much to so many was celebrated May 26 at the Mississippi Realtors Center in Flowood. Nearly 200 people including family, friends, colleagues, community members and well wishers gathered to tell George T. Jackson Sr., a retired educator, “thank you.”
Jackson, who turned 80 May 30, four days after the grand celebration, said he was completely surprised by the gathering. “Man, listen, I thought I was headed to a church fundraising event…I was completely caught off guard.”
Jackson said when he walked in the building, he thought the people there were in the middle of service. “I thought they were praying and having devotion,” he said with laughter.
This party came full circle for Jackson.
Jackson vividly recalls the time he had his first birthday party. The party was given to him as an adult by his fifth grade students at Cameron Street Elementary School in Canton, Miss. “That was my first birthday party,” he said. “My fifth grade students did that for me.”
Ironically, teaching at Cameron Street Elementary was also Jackson’s first teaching job. He would spend four years in Canton before moving to the Jackson Public Schools District where he retired after 28 years of service with a combined total of 32 years in education.
Lori Jackson-Evans, Jackson’s daughter who lives in Memphis and works as the the manager of Corporate and Community Engagement for the United Way of the Mid-South, handled every detail of the planning for the celebration. “We wanted to celebrate a man that has given so much and has been so many things to so many people,” she said. “He is a son, father, husband, teacher, mentor, coach and civil rights activist.”
Jackson said he credits his mother for instilling values and a strong work ethic in him. “My mom worked hard to keep me on the right path, to steer me in the right direction…she was the example of success,” he said.
Those teachings he shares freely with others. His son, G. Torrie Jackson Jr., a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army Reserve/Mississippi National Guard, is currently deployed in Kuwait, but was able to get a special pass in time for the celebration. “He timed it perfectly as he was able to attend his son’s graduation from Murrah and this extraordinary affair,” the senior Jackson said.
There’s an old saying that the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. This holds true with the junior Jackson. In his civilian life, he’s employed by the Holmes County School District. “I called him the Friday before the party and wanted to take him out to celebrate father’s day because I knew he would be out of the country,” the senior Jackson said. “He told me he had other plans…I’m sure he was laughing on the inside at me.”
Jackson who graduated from Jackson State University in 1960 said, what finally made him retire was when he celebrated his 50th class reunion and received his golden diploma. “There were about 90 of us that showed up for this graduation and I looked around and said to myself…you’ve been working for 50 years,” he said. “I didn’t go back after that.”
Jackson is still serving the community, he’s a part of a mentoring group at Blackburn Middle School, he’s still singing and he’s still one of the best dressed men in Mississippi.
Thanks for being an example, Mr. Jackson.
See photos page 19