On the Loss of Susie Jackson

My heart is still heavy today thinking about the 9 lives lost in Charleston to White Supremacy. Today on my mind is Susie Jackson.


She was the matriarch of her family and was busy planning their annual family reunion at the time of her murder. I am haunted by the knowledge that her final moments were tied to such violence and hatred. That after her long life THIS is how she was taken from us.

I sit here thinking about all that she lived through in her 87 years on this earth as a black women. There are many tragedies that I know mark those 87 years but instead here I choose to note the triumphs that she witnessed her fellow Black Women achieve during her lifetime.

Losing her is the loss of a real life connector to these moments & to the stories that go with them as seen through her eyes that only she could tell:

  • Mary McLeod Bethune appointed by FDR for Natl Youth Admin of Director of Negro Affairs – the first Black Women appointed to a White House cabinet position
  • Zora Neale Hurston published Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • Marian Anderson, denied permission to sing at a Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) hall, performed outdoors for 75,000 at the Lincoln Memorial. Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR in protest of their refusal.
  • Evelyn Boyd Granville and Marjorie Lee Browne became the first two Black women to earn doctorates in mathematics
  • Gwendolyn Brooks became the first Black person to win a Pulitzer Prize (for Annie Allen)
  • Althea Gibson became the first Black person to play at Wimbledon & to win at Wimbledon and the first Black person to win the US Open
  • Norma Sklarek became the first Black woman licensed as an architect
  • Dorothy Dandridge was the first Black woman nominated for a Best Actress Oscar, for playing the lead role in Carmen Jones
  • Marian Anderson became the first Black member of the Metropolitan Opera company
  • Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry became the first Broadway play written by an Black woman
  • Wilma Rudolph became the first American woman to win three Olympic gold medals, and was named Athlete of the Year by the United Press
  • Mrs. Frankie Muse Freeman becomes the first woman on the new U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
  • Fannie Lou Hamer testified for the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party before the Credentials Committee of the Democratic National Convention
  • Patricia Harris became the first Black woman ambassador (Luxemburg)
  • Constance Baker Motley appointed a federal judge, the first Black woman to hold that office
  • Loving v. Virginia, Supreme Court ruled that laws prohibiting interracial marriage were unconstitutional, voiding statutes still on the books in 16 states
  • Shirley Chisholm was the first Black woman elected to the US House of Representatives
  • Audre Lorde published her first book of poems, The First Cities.
  • Shirley Chisholm became the first Black woman candidate for President, with more than 150 delegate votes at the 1972 Democratic convention
  • Barbara Jordan elected to Congress, the first Black woman from a southern state to be elected to the House
  • Barbara Jordan was the first woman and the first Black person to give the keynote address at a national convention of the Democratic Party
  • Hazel Winifred Johnson became the first Black woman appointed as a general
  • Toni Morrison became the first Black winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature
  • Carrie Saxon Perry, elected mayor of Hartford, Connecticut, becoming the first Black woman mayor of a large American city
  • Roselyn Payne Epps became the first woman president of the American Medical Association
  • Mae Jemison, astronaut, became the first Black woman in space
  • Carol Moseley Braun elected to the US Senate, the first Black woman to hold that office
  • Rita Dove became the first Black poet laureate
  • Joycelyn Elders became the first Black person and first woman US Surgeon General
  • Arkansas named a state holiday for Daisy Bates, the first state to name a holiday for an Black woman
  • Ruth Simmons, Brown University, became the first Black president of an Ivy League university

My heart is heavy.


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