On Thursday, our group had the incredible honor of being welcomed into the home of Richie “Jean” Jackson, a close friend of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A seemingly casual meeting quickly transformed into an emotional, impactful hour of storytelling and inspiring tales of Jean’s time with the Kings who used her home as the headquarters during Dr. King’s years in Selma, Alabama.
Jean and her husband, Sullivan, opened their doors, allowing history to transpire right before their eyes. Jean, now in her 80s, hardly ever invites the public into the home, but, thanks to her good friend, Hannah Berger (who happens to be one of 10 remaining Jews in Selma), was persuaded to share her story in hopes of inspiring youth. Indeed, the nostalgia of the home overtook our senses, leaving us all feeling immeasurably inspired.
Jean hoped that our greatest takeaways would include knowing “the truth,” as she called it, meaning the first-hand story of the Dr. King’s journey versus that which textbooks convey. Also, she stressed the necessity to follow in the step of our past leaders and take the future into our own hands. Jean, who was encouraged by her husband upon his deathbed to write a novel of the events that transpired in their home, also gave us the opportunity to purchase her book. In doing so, she left us with a powerful statement, expressing that we all should go out there, do something, and write our own books for her to one day read.
Not wanting to speak for others, I personally, feel as though this visit has left me with a small piece of both Jean and Dr. King, serving as a symbol of inspiration, motivation, and American pride for my future endeavors.