KWTX Salutes Dr. Mae Jackson

Published: Feb. 5, 2018 at 11:42 AM CST
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Dr. Mae Jackson is celebrated as Waco's first African American female mayor.

She was born in a segregated Teague in 1941.

She was the daughter of two educators who believed in being deeply involved in the community.

Jackson was a graduate and valedictorian of Booker T. Washington High School.

She earned a master of social work at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, and a doctorate of Philosophy at The University of Texas at Arlington.

Jackson also spent some time in our nation's capital where she worked for the National Council of Negro Women which was founded by another trail-blazing African American woman named Mary McLeod Bethune.

She traveled to Mississippi during the height of the civil rights struggle to support those pushing for change.

Later she moved to Waco and worked as a caseworker with a focus on children's mental health and supporting at-risk families.

Jackson's youngest daughter, Andrea J. Barefield, said her greatest contribution to the city was her willingness and ability to fight for it.

" My mother was a force to be reckoned with. An amazing lover of this city, of the community, of justice, of politics, of family. She was indescribable."

Jackson was a council member for District 1 from 2000 to 2004.

Barefield said, "She fought hard for the city because she knew that getting one part right wasn't enough."

Jackson was a member of Delta Sigma Theta, Incorporated and The Links, Incorporated.

Working as a member of these are women's organizations Jackson helped bring arts and culture to the Waco.

One such venture brought the jazzy sounds of flutist Bobbi Humphrey to town.

"I thought that was like the classiest thing ever bringing plays and when they would produce the ebony fashion fair here," said Barefield.

Jackson became mayor in 2004 with a goal of improving basic services such as water quality, promoting economic development, and increasing tourism.

"In downtown Waco now I find it hilarious that nothing can get built without going through Mae Jackson. (Dr. Mae Jackson Development Center) I find that really funny because that's where (city) planning is."

Jackson died during her first term as mayor in 2005 but her legacy lives on in the community she worked hard to improve and the lives she touched.