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Jackson, John Henry : Home

Written by Jaime Bradley

John Henry Jackson

John Henry Jackson(31 October 1850 - 21 June 1919) was the first African American graduate of Berea College, first president of Kentucky State University, first African American delegate to a Republican National Convention from the state of Kentucky, as well as a renowned educator, scholar of pedagogy, and leader in Kentucky's African American community.


Education and Career

Born on 31 October 1850 in Lexington, Kentucky, Jackson began his education in the Lexington public schools. In 1866 he enrolled in the Berea College Academy Department, then entered the College Department in 1870. He graduated from Berea College in 1874 (a member of the second graduating class) with a Bachelor of Arts, thus becoming the first African American graduate of Berea College, and the first overall African American college graduate within the state of Kentucky. He was awarded an A.M. degree from Berea College in 1883.

Between 1875 and 1876, Jackson served as the first principal of the Corrall Street School in Lexington, Kentucky. He also served as the first president of the State Association of Colored Teachers (which was founded in 1877 and renamed the Kentucky Negro Educational Association in 1913). In 1880 he served as a representative to the Republican National Convention, the first African American from the state of Kentucky to be elected as a delegate. Between 1881 and 1887, Jackson served as principal of Lincoln High School in Jefferson City, Missouri, along with other various local positions in Kansas. In 1887, Jackson returned to Kentucky and became the first president of the new State Normal School for Colored Persons in Frankfort, Kentucky (now Kentucky State University), a post he vacated in 1898. During the 1890s, Jackson became a voice of leadership in education and civil rights in Kentucky, leading an effort to halt the passage of the Separate Coach Bill, serving on an education committee for the 1893 World's Fair, and delivering celebrated speeches at several conventions and before the Kentucky State Senate. He also served on the Board of Trustees of Berea College from 1892-1896 and served as a "Lecturer of Pedagogics" at Berea College during 1893-1894.

He was the author of History of Education: from Greeks to the Present Time, published in 1905.

From 1907 to 1910 he served a second term as president of the State Normal School for Colored Persons, where the school's first building was renamed "Jackson Hall" in his honor. 

Noted Berea Graduate Dies - Columbus, Ohio, June 21 - Professor John H. Jackson, Negro educator and writer, died at his home here. He was 68 years of age. Professor Jackson was the first Negro to be graduated from Berea College, Berea, Kentucky. He was president of the Kentucky Normal and Industrial Institute for eleven years and president of the Lincoln institute, Jefferson City, Missouri, for three years. He also was connected with the public schools of Lexington, where he was born, for several years. His chief published work was a "History of Education from the Greeks to the Present Time."  At the time of his death he was secretary of the Negro Y. M. C. A. here. In 1880 he was a delegate-at-large from Kentucky to the Republican national convention, where he was one of the famous 306 that voted for Grant. - Lexington Leader                

                                                                         John Henry Jackson's Obituary in the Lexington Leader.                                                                                                                                      


John H. Jackson married Henrietta Stewart in 1887. They had three children, Ethelbert, Arthur, Atwood, none of which survived to adulthood; Henrietta passed away in 1888. On 17 July 1889, Jackson married Ida May Joyce of Columbus, Ohio, an instructor at the State Normal School. They had a son, Earl, who had also passed away by 1905.


Edited March 2023

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