Resources for Teachers and Students

Prepare: The University of California at Berkeley recently named a building to house graduate students after Ida Jackson, who the university calls "a most memorable lady." Ida Jackson was one of only seventeen African-American students to attend the University of California when she enrolled there in 1920. A webfeature of the UC Berkeley News contains Dr. Jackson's biography, as well as a slideshow of images in her memory.

Read: The corpus of Dr. Jackson's writing includes such pioneering works, for their time, as Development of Negro Children in Reference to Education, published in 1923, and The Librarian's Role in Creating Racial Understanding, published in 1944. The short article found in Architects of Peace is excerpted from "Ida Jackson: Oakland's First Black Teacher Reflects on her Career," by Charles Aikens.

Explore: Up to the point of her death, Ida Jackson maintained that black students were not encouraged to succeed in collegiate studies to the same extent that white students were. Is this still true? Find out the percentage of Caucasian students who successfully complete the requirements for a degree at the institution where you currently study, compared to the percentage of minority students who do so. How does this compare to the national average?

Write: Over the course of the past decade, "diversity" has become a major concern of most institutions of higher education, with many universities establishing structures specifically to promote multicultural diversity within the population of faculty and students. University curriculums have also been expanded in this direction as well, especially in terms of the pursuit of Ethnic Studies. Is it reasonable to assume that increased diversity leads to greater harmony, and therefore peace, within a closed community like a college campus, or does the opposite occur? Does fear, resentment, and racial prejudice increase in an environment where diversity has been forced upon the student population? Using a simple instrument of your own design, conduct a survey of fifty of your classmates, concentrating on their expectations of what an increasingly diverse environment would accomplish, and then compile a three-page summary of your findings.

Extend: One of the major differences in educational systems since the days when Ida Jackson became the first African-American to teach in the Oakland Public School system is the value of diversity in campus communities. Discover whether there's a specific program to promote diversity at the institution where you study, and whose responsibility it is to implement that program. In what ways can individual students assist in efforts to increase, not to mention celebrate, diversity within the school?

Additional Resource: The National Education Association (USA) has published a "Diversity Timeline"; on their website, which traces advances made subsequent to the U.S. Supreme Court decision "Brown v. Board of Education.

Biography of Ida Jackson