Wharlest Jackson marker unveiled on Minor Street

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 28, 2011

NATCHEZ — The memory of Wharlest Jackson Sr. was honored with a memorial service and unveiling of a permanent historical marker on Minor Street on Sunday.

The memorial began at Macedonia Baptist Church where Wharlest Jackson Jr. described the bombing of his father’s truck in 1967 and read documents that fingered possible suspects.

No one was ever arrested for the car bombing that killed the civil rights leader shortly after he had taken a promotion to a “whites only” job.

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Ser Seshs Ab Heter-CM Boxley said the solemn occasion was long overdue, and read an ode to Jackson.

“The ground is consecrated with the blood of Wharlest Jackson Sr.,” Boxley said. “It is sacred ground. The marker marks a time when black folks were not allowed by law to do the same things as whites. And mostly, it marks a time and place when black people could not get the same jobs as white people.”

Boxley said the Natchez community will reach full maturity when the whole truth is told.

Ola Rea Jackson, sister of Wharlest Jackson Sr., said the seven siblings grew up in a Christian home, knowing right from wrong.

“We just had to be in the environment to teach someone else,” Jackson said. “God puts us in these positions.

“I am proud of my brother who took life as a man, and a black man at that.”

Paula Johnson, professor of law at Syracuse University and advocate for the families of those killed in the Civil Rights movement was the guest speaker at the memorial service.

“What we’re about, is to find out why it happened. But more importantly, to find those who are responsible for making it happen,” she said.

Johnson said that Jackson took the 17-cent pay raise to better support his family.

“But the value of that, for all of us, is priceless. We are here to continue the demand for justice in the legal system and our entire society. You will have closure if you have justice. We do this because we owe it to the Jackson family. The demand for justice is not cold.”

Cheryl Glover, niece of Jackson, urged everyone present to have a conversation about the pursuit of justice.

“Somewhere in someone’s mind is the key to unlock this information,” Glover said.

Adams County Board of Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said Sunday was a special day for Natchez and Adams County. Grennell, who spearheaded efforts to obtain a historical marker, thanked the Historic Natchez Foundation for approving and collecting funds for the marker that was placed in the vicinity of where the bomb exploded 44 years ago.

“In 50 to 100 years from now, children will see the marker and ask, ‘Who was Wharlest Jackson?’” Grennell said.

The marker, located at 9 Minor St. in Natchez said, “Wharlest Jackson was a Natchez Civil Rights activist who lost his struggle for racial equality on Feb. 27, 1967. The explosion of a bomb implanted under his truck took his life. Members of the Ku Klux Klan targeted Jackson, because he was treasurer of the Natchez Chapter of the NAACP and had received a promotion at Armstrong Tire and Rubber Company that would have otherwise gone to a white employee.”