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Weekly Kiwanis Meeting
May 24, 2012
Honorable Edna Jackson, City of Savannah Mayor
EDNA BRANCH JACKSON was elected to serve as the 65th mayor of Savannah, Georgia and the first African-American woman to hold this position. Prior to this election, she was re-elected to serve a third term as Alderman at Large Post 1 on the Savannah City Council in November 2007. Subsequent to her election, the members of City Council re-elected her to serve a second term as Mayor Pro Tem, making her the first female and first African American Female to hold that position on the Council. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) and is the former president for the 12th District. While serving on GMA’s Executive Board, she chaired the Community Development Policy Committee. She has been reappointed to the Georgia Municipal Association Board of Directors. Mrs. Jackson served two years as Chairman of the Chatham County Municipal Association, which includes elected officials from eight municipalities in Chatham County. Jackson was recently re-elected to the Board of Directors of the National League of Cities (NLC), an organization that advocates for cities and towns across the United States, and also is a member of the NLC board’s Leadership Training Council. She is a former President of the National League of Cities’ (NLC’s) Women In Municipal Government (WIMG), which is comprised of women elected officials who serve in municipal governments throughout the United States.
Jackson began her career as a public servant at an early age. She joined the NAACP Youth Council in Savannah at the age of nine. While a student at Alfred Ely Beach High School, she began her journey with the Civil Rights movement in Savannah under the leadership of the late W. W. Law and the late Judge Eugene H. Gadsden. She was among the students who participated in the “Sit-ins” at downtown Savannah businesses, the “Wade-In’s” at Tybee Beach, and the “Kneel-Ins” at various Savannah churches during the Civil Rights movement in Savannah in the early ’60s. After graduating from Beach High in 1962, she entered Savannah State College (now university), but the fight for the civil rights of her people took precedence over her education for a few years. During this period, she was employed with the NAACP National Youth Task Force, and as a result spent time in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia demonstrating and conducting voter registration drives. She was also a member of National Youth Work Committee of the NAACP, coordinating its youth conventions on the National and Regional levels. In addition, she was instrumental in organizing NAACP Youth Councils and college chapters throughout the South. At age 18, Jackson took an integrated group of students from Tampa, Florida to the 1963 March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
Having been taught to understand the value of education, she returned to Savannah State and completed the Bachelor of Science in Sociology in 1968. However, she briefly interrupted her studies to participate in the March from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. She earned the Masters of Education in 1972 from Savannah State University/Armstrong Atlantic State University, and did additional studies in Counseling at Georgia Southern University. After employment as a social worker with the Economic Opportunity Authority, she was appointed Director of the Emergency School Assistance Program (ESAP) at Savannah State College in 1971. During her tenure of employment, she served her alma mater in the areas of counseling, admissions and recruiting, financial aid, and as Director of Alumni Affairs and Elderhostel Coordinator. She retired in 2001 after 30 years of service.
She is the past Southern Regional Vice President and National Vice President of the SSU National Alumni Association. In the Savannah community, Edna Jackson has rendered the same level of dedicated service. She is Former Vice Chairman and member of the Chatham County Democratic Executive Committee, former Chairperson of the Chatham County Hospital Authority, former board member of Economic Opportunity Authority, and former member of the U.S. Selective Board. She was appointed by Congressman John Barrow to serve as a member of the Military Academy Selection Committee and the Regional Committee of the U. S. Civil Rights Commission. She a member of the NAACP, and a former member of the Board of Directors of the Savannah Regional Second Harvest Food Bank.
Mrs. Jackson is a Diamond Life Member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and a board member of the sorority’s foundation. She is also one of the founders and organizers of the Mandingo Socio-Civic Club and a partner with Lasting Impressions, LLC. Jackson is a communicant of St Philip AME Church, where she is a member of the Celestine Guild. A native of Savannah, she is the daughter of the late Mrs. Georgia Dillard of Tampa, Florida and the mother of one son, Kevan LaMar Jackson, of Savannah.
Mrs. Jackson has received many honors: A Working Woman in Need (AWWIN) Top 10 Working Women of the Year Award;NAFEO Outstanding Alumnus from Savannah State College; Alumnus of the Year Savannah State University; M L King Jr Observance Day Association Civil Rights Leader;Delta Sigma Theta Sorority – Alfreta Adams Community Serve Award;A. E Beach Class of 62’ Humanitarian Award; Mutuals Civic Organization Political Leader Award; AME Church Conference Founders Day Parade Marshall;Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Citizen of the Year Award 1996;Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority – Mozella Collier Volunteer Service Award 1997;EOA Martin Luther King Service Award 2000;Yellow Dog Democrat Award July 2002; Tom Joyner Hardest Working Community Advocate Award 2004L; WQBT Platinum Community Leadership Award 2005; Goodness & Mercy Foundation Award 2007; Chatham County Democrat Toby Buttimer Award 2007; NAACP Freedom Award 2008;International Longshoremen Local 1414 Humanitarian Award 2008; Savannah Civil Rights Museum Unsung Heroes Award 2010; Savannah-Beaufort- Low Country Bennett College Alumnae Civil Rights Pioneer Award- 2011 and many others.