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PCC dedicates reading room to Rev. John Jackson

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When the winds of the Civil Rights Era blew through Oregon in the 1960s – as they did all over the United States – the man in the eye of the storm during those turbulent times was the Rev. John H. Jackson. From his pulpit at Mount Olivet Baptist Church, and from the marches, sit-ins and demonstrations on the streets, the Rev. Jackson was a leader in bringing the period’s profound changes to Portland.

Rev. Jackson at PCC's building dedication.

On Sunday, Feb. 28, his legacy will be enshrined for posterity at Portland Community College’s Cascade Campus, 705 N. Killingsworth St., when the Rev. John H. Jackson Collection and Reading Room are dedicated officially and opened to the public. The occasion will be marked by a short program starting at 2:30 p.m. in the Moriarty Arts and Humanities Building Auditorium, followed by a dedication and reception in the campus library at 3:30 p.m.

“The Rev. Jackson was one of the premier leaders in the community, particularly the African American community, during those times,” said Harold Williams Sr., chair of the PCC Board of Directors, who will be among the speakers at the Jackson dedication. “He was at the frontline of social change and had a tremendously positive impact on the community as a whole.

“In many ways, although he didn’t live to see it, he was a leader who helped bring us into the 21st century,” he added.

The campus enjoyed a close relationship with the Rev. Jackson for many years during his lifetime. Cascade’s Jackson Hall was dedicated in his honor in 1985 and after he passed away in 1994 at the age of 81, his widow, Dian Jackson, donated his library and a collection of his correspondence, sermons and personal effects to the campus. The collection is housed in Cascade’s library, in a room, which – after the Feb. 28 dedication – will be known as the Rev. John H. Jackson Reading Room.

Jackson Hall at the Cascade Campus.

The collection paints a fascinating portrait of a man deeply committed to the welfare of his community. Included in the collection’s documents is correspondence with noteworthy politicians of the day – including U.S. Sen. Mark O. Hatfield, Gov. Vic Atiyeh and President Jimmy Carter, among others – and a proclamation signed by former Portland Mayor Bud Clark declaring Aug. 30, 1987, as the Rev. John H. Jackson Day.

“We’re very excited to officially dedicate the Rev. Jackson Collection,” said Cascade Campus President Algie Gatewood. “Not only because he was such an important part of Portland history, but also because the collection will remain as an academic and historical resource for generations to come.”

Former Oregon state Sen. Margaret Carter, who also will speak at the dedication, described the Rev. Jackson as a genuine man who “lived his ministry.”

“He was a very strong advocate for the community,” Carter said. “He worked incredibly hard with people to elevate their consciousness around issues of livability and social justice. He was a true protector of the people. It was wonderful to know a person whose walk so completely coincided with his talk.”

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