On Sept. 13, Dr. Erin Chandler’s English composition class ventured to Selma, Ala. in order to see the Jackson Home, an unassuming house that once opened its doors to historical black leaders from Booker T. Washington to Martin Luther King Jr.
When we arrived at the house, we were led to the back door as if we were part of the family. Upon entering the home, there was also an immediate familial atmosphere. The house was overflowing with historical artifacts from 1912 and on. However, it is not solely the historical figures housed there that makes it such a powerful place to visit.
According to Jawana Jackson, the current owner of the home, the house is “a myriad of stories.” It all began with Anthony and Ellen Richardson, Jawana’s ancestors, who had a dream to contribute to the community and the country by emphasizing the importance of principles. Their son-in-law, Dr. Richard Byron Hudson, built the house in 1912 in hopes of using it as a tool to educate people. “It was built by an educator to educate the masses, our community, our nation,” Jackson said.
Since then it has gently sheltered causes for the civil rights movement, housing activists such as W.E.B Du Bois, Dr. Ralph Bunche and Martin Luther King Jr. Most famous of these, of course, is Martin Luther King Jr. He stayed in the home with Jackson’s parents.
Dr. King was especially close to her and her family. So close, in fact, that she said, “He was Uncle Martin to me. He was the man who read me bedtime stories.”
Since no hotel would allow King to stay there, the Jacksons welcomed him into their home. During his stay, he and other civil rights leaders helped plan the successful march from Selma to Montgomery that sparked the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Sadly, the Jackson Home’s historical relevance often goes unnoticed. With little funding to preserve the house, few people have been able to experience this conduit to the past. Jackson’s ultimate goal for the house is to foster new thought and discuss the issues of today along with teaching the overall history of the home. She reiterates, “I know that this house can be a resource for that.”