Edna B. Jackson

Edna+B.+Jackson

Graphic by Maisie Derlega

Amelia Bergeron

Edna B. Jackson was the first female Black teacher to be hired at Wilson following the ruling of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. She began in 1955 as a social studies teacher. When she started, she was not only the sole Black female teacher, she was one of the only persons of color in the building. Her work as an educator and trailblazer is a key part of Wilson’s diversity today. 

Jackson was born and raised in DC. She graduated as valedictorian at Dunbar High School in Northwest. While representing DC at the Chicago National Finals of an Elks Oratorical Contest, she earned a 4-year scholarship to Howard University. At Howard, she double-majored in romance languages and social studies and graduated in three years Summa Cum Laude. After returning to Howard for her Master’s degree, Jackson started her teaching career. 

In 1934, she was hired at Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Six years after she started teaching in Tulsa, she was granted an opportunity to return to DC and continue her educational career at Cardozo High School, until she was chosen to come to Wilson. 

Jackson proved to be a revolutionary trailblazer to the Wilson community. During her tenure, she witnessed the desegregation and integration of Wilson’s student body, the growth of Advanced Placement, and the introduction of Black studies courses. In an article published in a Beacon from 1970 commenting on changes at Wilson, Jackson explains that during her tenure, she saw a growth in student participation and responsibility surrounding school policy. 

As an educator, she also built relationships with hundreds of students and her passion for teaching continued into her retirement, where she volunteered at River Terrace Community School in Washington, DC and Thomas Claggett Elementary School in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Her passion for teaching and desire for learning helped her to be a groundbreaking educator and influence on the Wilson community. Jackson died on February 21, 2004 at the age of 93.