Last week saw the passing of Esther Cooper Jackson, a noted civil rights activist and a co-founder of Freedomways journal. Much more could have been said about Mrs. Jackson, particularly her devotion to her husband, James Jackson, a stalwart of the Communist Party for many years.
Mr. Jackson died in 2007 and several years before, in the early 1990s, he withdrew from the Party as the Soviet Union collapsed. All of this, the convergence of Jackson’s departure, and the end of the Soviet Union are evoked with the death of Mikhail Gorbachev. He was the nation’s leader from 1985 to 1991, just about the time Mr. Jackson ended his affiliation.
What did not end for the Jacksons was their commitment to civil and human rights, and in our obit on Esther some of the remarkable details of her life are cited. But one of the things that should be stressed about this activist couple is the role they played in the founding and the unwavering struggle to end Jim Crow and racist segregation as members of the Southern Negro Youth Congress (SNYC).
They were key organizers in the South, especially in their commitment to end unfair labor practices of tobacco workers as well as their fight to end discrimination in busing and transportation. Some historians have cited the SNYC as a forerunner to the larger Civil Rights Movement and such organizations as SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee).
The couple was idolized for their unbroken matrimonial ties and their unflagging militancy.
When the books are written about the amazing couples in the movement, Ossie and Ruby, Malcolm and Betty, Martin and Coretta, Paul and Eslanda, et al they should not forget the Jacksons and remember their unflinching stand on the ramparts and fight for freedom, justice, and equality as we remember them.