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Myrna Carter Jackson, Prominent Birmingham Civil Rights Activist, Dies at 82

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Myrna Carter Jackson, a Birmingham civic leader and Foot Soldier who participated in marches, sit-ins, demonstrations and other Civil Rights activities, died on May 31. She was 82. (Screengrab, YouTube)

By Barnett Wright | The Birmingham Times

Myrna Carter Jackson, a Birmingham civic leader and Foot Soldier who participated in marches, sit-ins, demonstrations and other Civil Rights activities, died on May 31. She was 82.

Mrs. Jackson, who was arrested and jailed twice during the 1963 marches, went on to become one of the city’s most visible and prominent activists serving in leadership with the Birmingham NAACP and joining the board of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) where she educated tour groups from around the world about the city’s history and role in global change for human rights.

She stood out not only in the community, but among family as well.

“She was our most respected aunt,” said her niece Tracy Boone, of Birmingham. “You respect all of your aunts because of who they are but there was just something different about her. We called all of our aunts by their first names, but you couldn’t call her by her first name. You either had to call her ‘Mrs. Jackson’ ‘Mrs. Myrna’ or ‘Aunt Myrna’ … and everybody called her ‘auntie’. If you say mama, ‘auntie’s on the phone’ she didn’t have to say which one. She knew who it was. That was the level of respect.”

Her aunt made sure the family knew about Birmingham’s Civil Rights history, said Boone. “It was taught in the family just as much as she taught it outside the family.”

Boone said her aunt was known for something else as well. “She was a great cook – oh my God – she was the best cook and baker. She could sell her cakes and pies … She was a giant to us.”

Former Jefferson County Commissioner and radio personality Shelia Smoot recalled Mrs. Jackson was a advocate when many others were not. “She was my biggest supporter when people told her not to,” said Smoot. “I knew her all my career.  I met her when I traveled here from Anniston to a Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) Junior Board meeting in my 20’s. I never knew she had my back until that 2002 race (for Jefferson County Commission).  She didn’t back down and she taught me so much.”

Mrs. Jackson, who received many awards for community service and activism, was a lifelong participant for Birmingham causes from the Children’s March to the Monday Masses, organized by the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR), led by the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth. That work continued throughout her life. She helped organize the 2009 conference between youth and law enforcement with the BCRI and the FBI. In 2017, Mrs. Jackson helped commemorate the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument.

She was an active member of the Metro Birmingham Branch of the NAACP and served as the first vice president for over 20 years and went on to establish the Women in the NAACP (WIN), where she served as the chairperson for the last 10 years. In 2018, Mrs. Jackson served as interim president of the Birmingham NAACP.

Myrna Carter Jackson died on May 31. She was 82. (Screengrab, YouTube)

Civic Leader

Mrs. Jackson was born on July 9, 1941, in Birmingham, Alabama, to Willie George Carter and Willie Lee Ledger. She accepted Christ at an early age and was baptized under the pastoral ship of Rev L. M. Turner.  She was a Sunday School teacher, member of Number 3 usher board and the head of the Youth Ministry. She later joined Bethel Baptist Church Berney Points under the leadership of Rev. William H. Greason, where she was a Sunday School teacher.

She attended Thomas and Shields Elementary Schools and graduated from A.H. Parker High School in 1958 at the age of 16, attended Barbara Durr Beauty College and became a licensed cosmetologist, in 1965 and owned her own business.

Mrs. Jackson later attended Lawson State Community College in Birmingham and after graduating became a certified substitute teacher and taught at several schools in the Birmingham City School System. She later worked for Macy’s and Parisian’s department stores.

In 2000 Jackson graduated from Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama, with her BSW degree. During her matriculation at Miles, she was inducted into the Iota Delta chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.

After graduating from Miles College, she helped with workforce development to provide social services after Hurricane Katrina and later joined Birmingham Works for Youth to provide job training and skills for school-age children.  Mrs. Jackson was then appointed commissioner of the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District by Mayor William Bell.

In 1965, she married Jethro Jackson in 1965 and to this union a son, Jeffrey D. Jackson, was born. Years later she married Isaac V. Jackson and a son Michael V. Jackson was born.

Her Legacy

Mrs. Jackson leaves to cherish her memories, a loving and devoted son Jeffrey Jackson and son Michael (LaBrena) Jackson; two grandchildren Denitra “Lady” Streeter and Kieron Jackson; a brother, Willie G. (Barbara) Carter Jr , Decatur, Ga; four sisters, Sylvia Weatherspoon, Lee Edna Boone, Iris Elom  all of Birmingham,  AL, and Wanda (Matthelon) Morton of Shreveport,  LA; a sister in law Hattie  Carter of Birmingham,  AL; caring and devoted caregivers,  nieces Adrienne (Edwin) Adams and Tracy Boone,  and great niece Adrianna Adams; and a grand host of nieces, nephews, cousins and other relatives and friends; She was preceded in death by two brothers, Alfred Lee Carter and John Carter.

Services will be held Saturday June 8 at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, 1530 6th Ave. North, Birmingham, 35203 at 1 p.m.