A. C. Jackson (1881-1921)
A. C. Jackson grew up the quiet, studious, gentle son of devout Negro parents in Guthrie, then Tulsa. His father Townsend had been a respected lawman even during Jim Crow segregation days, and had earlier preached a manly sermon of Christian charity and forbearance—including in racial matters—in Greenwood that displeased some of his more pugnacious but hardly more courageous colleagues.
A. C. graduated from Meharry Medical School in Tennessee, the nation’s finest such institution for blacks. In his two decades of surgical practice, he earned the distinction of “The most able Negro surgeon in America,” according to no less than the Mayo brothers who founded the Mayo Clinic. He counted white patients among his clientele, an unheard of phenomenon in that day, and he lived with his beautiful wife Julia in a lovely, modern brick home, amidst other black professionals, on Detroit Avenue, the boundary between Greenwood and white Tulsa. Blacks lived in the houses on the east side of the street, whites across from them.
Jackson had no involvement in the violent overnight events of May 31-June 1, 1921. The next morning, however, he walked out of his house as armed whites rampaged through Greenwood at the end of the fighting. Out front, Jackson raised his hands and, according to his white friend and neighbor, retired judge John Oliphant, an eyewitness, told them, “Here I am. I want to go with you.”
Despite Oliphant’s plea of, “That’s Dr. Jackson, don’t hurt him,” a teenaged hothead shot him in the chest, knocking him down, then another young white man shot him again as he lay on the ground. Before the day was out, A. C. Jackson’s home was in ashes and he was dead. If the Tulsa Race War possessed an apotheosis, it may well have been this bitter loss to Greenwood, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and America.