The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By David Stevens
Editor 

Ida Jackson - 'Always something positive'

Pioneer teacher remains role model for Lincoln-Jackson students.

 

Jamie Cushman

Ida Jackson is memorialized at the Lincoln Jackson Family Center at 206 Alphon St. in Clovis.

CLOVIS — Bruce Pollard was in third or fourth grade when he first remembers Ida Jackson, one of his school's teachers.

"She called everybody 'Baby,' or 'Sugar,'" he said. "It was always something positive with her. And if we'd do something wrong, she'd say, 'Now don't make your Mama want to whoop you.'"

Luella Davis remembers that sweet disposition and Jackson's passion for educating.

"Oh, she had a beautiful personality," Davis said. "She'd come to you and want to make sure you understood what she was teaching. She was very polite. She'd ask if you understood, and if you didn't she'd keep working with you. She had a lot of patience, which you don't find too often anymore."

Today is a good day to remember Jackson because she is a centerpiece of the biennial reunion for former students of the Clovis school that includes her name.

Lincoln-Jackson was named for her and Abraham Lincoln in 1930.

"Because of the high esteem and respect the students had for Mrs. Jackson, many wanted to name it Jackson School," according to a school history report compiled by former Principal U. Douglas Clay and Clovis Municipal Schools. The school board ultimately added the former president's name.

Clovis schools were segregated when Jackson arrived from Texas to teach in 1926. She started with two African-American students in a classroom at Bethlehem Baptist Church. She was still the school's only teacher in 1935, when she taught 35 students in a one-room schoolhouse at 104 Merriwether St.

She retired following the 1954-55 school year, newspaper accounts show.

While she is forever remembered as a teacher, old-timers know she was also a community leader and public servant.

In 1944, Historian Don McAlavy reported, her home at 200 Calhoun St. was used as the organizing site for the Federated Progressive Club for black women working to improve their communities.

Newspaper reports show she was the director at Clovis' United Service Organization for black military personnel during World War II.

She also taught Sunday school classes and was well known for providing short-term housing — in her house — to those in need.

Pollard, 80, of Clovis, and Davis, 79, now of Los Angeles, were among those attending the weekend school reunion and sharing stories about Jackson.

There are plenty to share, including some mystery.

She came to Clovis from Texas alone, all seem to agree, at age 36. Records show she was married, to a man named Arthur Jackson; McAlavy, the historian, reported her husband was "chronically ill" in Waco when Jackson came to Clovis for work.

Census records from 1930 show she was married. The 1940 Census shows she was widowed.

Joyce Pollard, Bruce's wife, said Jackson left Clovis each summer to stay with her husband until his passing.

Her former students said they do not believe she ever had children. Her obituary, published following her death on Dec. 24, 1960, listed only four brothers as survivors. The brothers, all surnamed Wilson, were scattered from Oklahoma to California.

A 1948 newspaper article reported the Patterson Chapel at 503 W. Second in Clovis was planning to honor Jackson "at special Mother's Day services."

The article provided little additional information, but McAlavy said Jackson was heavily involved in her church.

"... (T)wice a year she telephoned nearly every African-American Clovis resident on Easter Sunday and Mother's Day," inviting them to worship with her, McAlavy wrote.

The year after her death, Jackson, Edna King and Rock Staubus were inducted into the Eastern District of the New Mexico Education Association's hall of fame. The Clovis News-Journal article reporting her hall-of-fame induction said Jackson had started her teaching career in Arkansas, where she spent eight years. There are no other Clovis newspaper reports suggesting she lived in Arkansas, so that might be wrong.

Most newspaper articles, and Census records, show Jackson had close ties to Waco. She earned her teaching credentials at Prairie View College, a historically black university located between Waco and Houston.

Census records tell us she earned $936 as a teacher in 1940. Census records also tell us she lived at 117 "Maryweather" in 1930, which is not the correct spelling for the street where her school was located.

In 1958, she helped lead a Red Cross campaign to raise funds and collect blood.

In 1938, she attended a white church to participate in a program that featured "old-fashioned costumes."

You can't tell a lot from snippets in a newspaper or from government documents. But we have a pretty good idea, from those records and from anecdotal reports, that Ida Jackson cared about her adopted community and she cared about her students, even when they weren't in class.

Andrew Robertson, now 78 and living in Killeen, Texas, helped organize the Lincoln-Jackson reunions, which began in the late 1980s. He said he knew Jackson as a neighbor on Clovis' Calhoun Street when he was 11 years old.

"We'd be doing mischievous things and she'd call us over and talk to us about doing the right thing and tell us about studying our books," he said. "She was always looking out for the neighborhood."

David Stevens is editor for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at: [email protected]

 

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