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In Memoriam: Carl Jackson

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Carl Jackson, a loving husband, father and professor at California State University, Fullerton, passed away on Nov. 8 of natural causes after several years of fighting hard against a number of age-related health challenges. He was 86.

Jackson blazed a trail in academia as one of the first professors of Afro-ethnic studies at Cal State Fullerton. For more than 30 years, Jackson played a crucial role as both an instructor and later as the department chair in developing Afro-ethnic studies courses on Black history, Black psychology, the History of Racism and others. Jackson had a love for teaching and inspiring students, whether they were Black or of any other race or ethnic background, helping them learn from and be empowered by the struggles and triumphs of Black people in America. Outside of the classroom, his passions revolved around teaching, cooking, fishing, golfing and providing for his large family.

Jackson was born the seventh child of 10 to Ellis and Clara Yeoman Jackson on July 1, 1937, in Tampa, Florida. His early education included Village Elementary School, W. Booker T. Washington Junior High and Don Thompson High School where he excelled in football. While growing up, all members of the Jackson family were required to attend and participate in church services at  Emmanuel Tabernacle Baptist Church. As a young child, Jackson had an entrepreneurial spirit. He developed a shoe shine business on the weekends in his neighborhood. He had his youngest sister collect shoes for a small fee. He pocketed the larger portion as he put it, “he purchased the supplies and performed the work.”

After graduating high school, Jackson left home to attend Fort Valley College on a football scholarship for one semester before transferring to San Diego State where he earned his bachelor’s degree and also played football. Later, he received a bachelor’s degree from Cal Poly Pomona, a master’s degree from the University of Southern California and his Ph.D. from United States International University in San Diego in 1978.

He often said earning his doctoral degree was his greatest professional accomplishment, allowing him to create a new career path for himself in higher education.

Before becoming a professor, Jackson had several careers that took him in many different directions in life — going from being a truck driver for Alpha Beta to working for General Dynamics in San Diego/ He also spent time traveling in various parts of the world, including Iran, where he lived for two years.

While earning his doctorate, Jackson began his long journey as a professor of Afro-ethnic studies at Cal State Fullerton. Alongside the late Wachira Githaiga, the late Julie Stokes and many others, he spent years helping to build the department into what it is today. He retired from teaching in 2004 and retained his status as an emeritus of the university until his passing.

During the years he was in declining health, Jackson would still enjoy growing vegetables in his backyard garden at his home in Yorba Linda, keeping up on political and current events in the news and watching “Family Feud.”

Most of Jackson’s life was lived in Southern California, where he was married several times and had a total of 14 children. He was preceded in death by his parents, six siblings and three sons, Carl Jackson Jr. and Carlton Jackson of Tampa, Florida, and Jeff Adams of Los Angeles, California.

He is survived by his wife, Elena Jackson of Orange County, California, and his living children: Valencia Broxie and Carlette Jackson of Tampa, Florida; Mark Jackson of Alhambra, California; Michael Jackson of Los Angeles, California; Nathan Jackson of Long Beach, California; Jillian Jackson of Yorba Linda, California; Jordan Deneal of Raleigh, North Carolina; Taylor Jackson of Queens Creek, Arizona; Blakely Larsen and Tatum of Palm Springs, California; and Parker Larsen of Los Angeles, California. He also leaves behind two sisters — Claretha Jackson of Alhambra, California; and Jennifer Jackson Barb of Rialto, California. He also leaves one brother, Melvin Jackson of Tampa, Florida. Also left to grieve is his sister-in-law, Carlene Jackson of Molalla,  Oregon; and his sisters-in-law, Maria Mitchell, Laura Long, Julie Miller and Paula Reisetter, and a host of grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

Siobhan Brooks