Addie Wilkins Jackson & Family

“A race who has shaken off the shackles of blackest superstition, ignorance and race hatred as quickly as the Negro, deserves great credit rather than ridicule.”

–Beatrice Jackson Conway

Addie Jackson, Beatrice Jackson Conway & Family — A Family Legacy

(Addie: 1875 – 1938)

The family scrapbook was a sacred find in the basement of a member of the Jackson family and it began an entire research project for Roger Glass, great grandson of Addie Jackson…

Addie Jackson, daughter of an enslaved woman, was an outspoken activist for the rights of the Black community. She was a founding member of the Empire State’s Federation of (Colored) Women’s Clubs, participating in a number of activities related to suffrage and other activism in defense of her Black community. 

(Please note the use of the word “enslaved woman” in place of “slave woman,” as her identity is not defined as a “slave.”)

During WWI, the Red Cross started a massive campaign soliciting the help of all American citizens to knit for the American soldiers fighting abroad. It came to light that the Black soldiers were not receiving the knitted donations from the many church, school and social groups across the nation. So, Addie began her own chapter of the Red Cross right in her very own living room to ensure that the 369th Regiment, the “Harlem Hellfighters,” would get their handcrafted gifts from the Black women in her community.

(In WWI, the Black soldiers were segregated and often discriminated against and given menial tasks, not the more notable positions given to their white comrades; blood donations from Blacks at first were not accepted at all and then when they finally were, the blood was kept separate, only to be used for Black soldiers).

Daughter Beatrice Jackson Conway, like her mother, became a voice for the Negro. She was the first Black girl to graduate from her high school in New York, became a poll watcher on voting days, and she wrote editorials regularly to the local newspaper advocating and defending the rights of the Black community, yet she died at the very young age of 28. 

Beatrice’s sisters, Virginia and Marie, and her daughter, as well as their children continued advocating for the rights of the Black community and volunteering for the Red Cross. The legacy of Addie’s family advocating for equal rights continues to this day.

Addie Jackson’s Red Cross chapter lives on today as the central chapter in Tarrytown, NY.

The short list:

  • A family scrapbook reveals the lengths and depths of fighting for the rights of the Black community.
  • Addie Jackson began her own Red Cross chapter in order to ensure the Black soldiers would receive the necessary knitted items.
  • Addie Wilkins Jackson began a legacy — her strength, persistence, and organizing power shined as an example to her girls and they carried on her activism through writing editorials and helping others within their community.
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