Pastor of a Community - W. K. Jackson (1914-2003)
Boley native W. K. Jackson preached his first sermon when he was fourteen. He had prepared for it since the Rev. W. M. Lane inspired him with a sermon when Jackson was four. “I'd preach to my parents and to the cow and to the cats and the dogs,” he told the Oklahoman newspaper. "Whenever I'd hear a preacher preach, I'd remember what he preached and repreach it to my parents.” Jackson later served St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church in Oklahoma City as pastor for 54 years.
He also played a pivotal role in the historic 1969 Oklahoma City Sanitation Workers strike. Jackson’s moral integrity and force of personality helped shape a resolution to the dangerous crisis that was both peaceful and beneficial to nearly all parties. It also left OKC a healthier rather than damaged city, unlike what similar crises had done elsewhere. Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, recalled:
“Black churches held that community together through thick and thin, good times and bad times. The black community looked up to their ministers. Jackson was one of the more articulate and a real man of faith. He really believed in what he was doing, he wasn’t doing it for personal gain or political reasons. He had the respect of his own congregation and the respect of the community. Even the non-churchgoing community looked up to the ministers….If you want to be elected in the black community, you’ve got to get the respect of the black ministers….Jackson had that seat of authority as a minister, he was well respected and smart. He also had a national network, he could call on resources. He was active in the NAACP. He was in the right position and had enough courage to step up and push back.
“If you talk to the black population in Oklahoma City regarding when they came together, they’ll tell you that the sit-ins were…small, isolated, made-for-TV theater. That was the whole idea. Get the TV stations there, watch the kids, and get the sympathy. The sanitation strike was huge. It affected the entire city. It affected daily life. Of course it was on TV and in the daily papers. Seeing (1,500) black people marching down the street was a little intimidating to the majority community.
“(Some other sanitation strike protest leaders)…were self-serving. Jackson would have been the one down with the guys at the pool hall, saying, ‘We’ve got to stand together,’ the one who would have had the courage to say we can do this. Jackson understood this was a pivotal time. He realized there was a two-tier system: ‘You pay these workers so much because they’re white, you pay these workers so much because they’re black. There’s disparity. It’s unjust, immoral, unethical.’ I think he put it in biblical terms: it’s not what Jesus would do. Jackson was such a man of faith. For him, everything was driven by his call to serve.”
The above article is a bonus to the fascinating historical content found within our book
Oklahomans Vol 2 :
Statehood - 2020s
which can be purchased HERE.
View the inspiring 2-minute preview video HERE.