After 60 years of work for social justice, Gertrude Jackson still volunteers at the Boys, Girls, Adults Community Development Center in Marvell, Ark., that she and a group of other citizens established in 1978.
Jackson will receive an honorary degree at UALR’s fall commencement ceremonies Thursday, Dec. 20, in the Jack Stephens Center.
“Unsung activists like Ms. Jackson are often the lifeblood of impoverished Arkansas Delta communities in helping to sustain daily life,” Chancellor Joel E. Anderson said in nominating Jackson for the honor.
“The award of an honorary degree recognizes the contributions of Jackson and other women like her whose efforts are significant yet all too often sidelined because they remain out of the headlines and out of sight.”
In the mid-1960s, Jackson and her husband, a farmer in a community beyond Turner and south of Marvell in Phillips County, invited the area Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) field secretary to hold weekly meetings in the community’s church to give people an outlet to air grievances.
Jackson was also instrumental in leading a group that established the Boys, Girls, Adults Community Development Center that continues today in Marvell, Ark.
“Local people like the Jacksons were crucial in forming an all-important bridge between external groups like SNCC and local Arkansas communities,” said History Department chair and Donaghey Professor Dr. John A. Kirk, co-editor of “Arsnick: The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Arkansas,” published by the University of Arkansas Press in 2011.
Learn more about Jackson and her community work, Honorary Degree to Celebrate Delta Activist.