University hosts Civil Rights author on campus

Civil Rights author Richie Jean Sherrod Jackson speaks to audience members in the GUC Feb. 6.

by Andy Thigpen Life Editor

Richie Jean Sherrod Jackson wooed and entertained a full crowd at the GUC Performance Center last Monday with stories of Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement.

Jackson’s lecture was part of the “Reflections of the Civil Rights Movement” event put on by the Office of Diversity and Institutional Equity (ODIE). She spoke about memories she had of growing up in Selma during the Civil Rights Movement, and how her home became a central hub for leaders during the movement. She chronicles her experiences in her new book “The House by the Side of the Road.”

“I never wanted to write a book,” she told the audience. “Not about our friend-not about our brother. I wrote what I experienced. I wrote what I saw, what I heard, what I know and it is the truth.”

Jackson discussed her interactions with many social and political leaders such as Lyndon B. Johnson, James Baldwin, Ralph Bunch, Harry Belafonte, Jesse Jackson and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The unspoken theme of the night seemed to be “fearlessness,” and how she wanted to cultivate a home without the presence of fear.

“When you got a mission and you have something to do and you’re young, you just do it,” Jackson said. “And you wait ‘til later to get scared. Get up and do what you got to do. The good Lord is watchin’ over you.”

While the night was a collection of fond memories about her house in Selma, the majority of the conversation rested on the memory of King, who lived in her home consistently between 1958 and 1968.

“I knew the man-the heart and soul of the man,” Jackson said. “When he was in the house, he was ‘Martin’ to me. He knew who he was, and he made no apologies.”

Students were affected by Jackson’s nostalgic recollection of the past.

“I thought it was special to hear that more personal side of Dr. King,” said SGA President Ralph Akalonu. “Most of what you hear is about his achievements and all that, but it brought a different perspective. I think it definitely embodied the celebration of his life.”

Junior merchandising major Brittany Jordan agrees with Akalonu.

“I think it was so inspiring,” she said. “It made me want to make a difference in other people’s lives. It was very educational, and I just felt compelled to buy the book to find out the truth.”

Jackson left the crowd with a message for the younger generation.

“You are standing on my shoulders. Get ye prepared to hold somebody on yours,” she said, and was responded to with applause. “Know and make up your mind to what your truth is. When you know that, you’ll be ready to hold the next generation on your shoulders.”