Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson serves as an inspiration to his 17-year-old granddaughter, Skye Jackson, as she fights against racism in her High School.
Jackson is a rising senior at Episcopal High School (EHS) in Alexandria, Va. Jackson is a pioneer in her high school enforcing diversity and inclusion. According to Yahoo, she currently serves as the co-president of the Black Student Association and the president of Spectrum, a diversity club.
In an interview with YahooLife, Jackson expresses that although she has been able to create “beautiful connections” with fellow students and faculty, there is a deep level of racism that still remains with her highschool community.
“Our school was founded in 1839. … Our school has deep roots in slavery, Jim Crow … the KKK, a lot of different Southern Confederate roots,” Jackson says. “Many times, it was just normal for students to be in blackface … at school events, and no teachers, no administrations, no faculty, no staff … would say something. And if there were those couple of faculty and staff members who would say something, nothing was done about it.”In an effort to spark a conversation on the topic of racial inclusion at EHS, Jackson and her best friend Amy John-Terry created BlackatEHS.
BlackatEHS is a public Instagram page for Black Students, alumni, and teachers to share their experiences at EHS.Some testimonials not only mentioned ways that the student at EHS made their fellow black classmates feel undervalued but also ways that parents and faculty at EHS participated. The page launched earlier this summer and has received over 100 posts regarding the racial climate of Episcopal High School.
Since it’s launching, @Blackatehs has been met with tremendous support says Jackson.
“We’ve received immense support from alumni and a few … teachers and faculty members — which has been also really amazing — and current students as well,” Jackson tells yahoo life.
Jackson mentions how some of her fellow white classmates have been vocal and supportive while others are a little hesitant, they “will kind of talk to me privately and say, ‘Yeah, that’s horrible. … Great job. Keep doing what you’re doing.’ But if they don’t say it publicly, how do other people know that they’re allies too?”
After reading the testimonials on Blackatehs, the Head of School at Episcopal High School Charley Stillwell, said in a statement to Yahoo Life that he is “grieved.”
“The strength of our community is important to us, and it is clear that Episcopal has fallen short of our ideals and our mission far too often,” Stillwell said. “At times, racism expressed through both words and actions has been hurtful to our Black students. We regret deeply that we did not do more to recognize and stand up to such racism and prejudice, and we are committed to becoming a community that is free of racism.”
Jackson drawls her inspiration to continue the fight for inclusion and diversity from her grandfather, Rev. Jesse Jackson.
“He’s just taught me how to have a vision, how to actually go for it,” Jackson says. “And just to not be afraid. And that’s been really kind of just amazing to have a role model who I can use and just say, ‘OK, someone in my family has done it before, I can do it too.’”