Dr. Crystal Jackson: Kings County's new NAACP president seeks new connections with the community. Education a key to success

By Ed Martin, Editor
Dr. Crystal Jackson, the NAACP's new Kings County president, speaks during a recent Martin Luther Kings Day celebration.
Dr. Crystal Jackson, the NAACP's new Kings County president, speaks during a recent Martin Luther Kings Day celebration.
Gary Feinstein, Feinsteinfotos.com

Dr. Crystal Jackson is becoming a familiar figure in Lemoore and Kings County. The soft-spoken, yet confident Bronx born, New York native, raised in Martinsville, Virginia, who served her country in the United States Navy, has become a common sight around the state and county, including Lemoore, where she regularly attends city council meetings and often has a word or question for the elected officials.

That's just part of her role, which often includes working within the community.

She's also the recently elected president of the local NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Hanford Branch #1039, and she's made it her mission to ask questions of local government, schools, and workplaces in the name of the local NAACP unit.

"While serving my community, I want to see a diversified increase in membership, and these things are already taking place. I want to be more connected with the community and educating them about the NAACP," said Jackson. "Most people believe the NAACP is a black organization. However, it's origin began with white liberals: Mary White Ovington, Oswald Villard, William Walling, and Dr. Henry Moscowitz."

The Kings County's local branch is an affiliate of the national association created in 1909 by a group including W.E.B. DuBois, Mary Church Terrell, Ida B. Well-Barnett, and Moorfield Storey, all of whom endeavored to create an organization "to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination."

Jackson has become a familiar face in Kings County and Lemoore. The NAACP president recently attended the Lemoore Chamber of Commerce Installation Banquet held January.
Jackson has become a familiar face in Kings County and Lemoore. The NAACP president recently attended the Lemoore Chamber of Commerce Installation Banquet held January.
Gary Feinstein, Feinsteinfotos.com

The NAACP is considered by many to be the premier and most visible civil rights organization in the United States. Its national headquarters is located in Baltimore, Maryland and had additional regional offices in New York, Michigan, Georgia, Texas, Colorado, and California. Membership currently hovers around 500,000 members.

The NAACP consists of several departments, including a "legal" department focusing on court cases dealing with discrimination in employment, government, and education. The education department works to improve public schools at the local, state and federal levels. A Health Division focuses on health care for minorities through public policy initiatives and education.

The NAACP has a history of battling discrimination, including the discriminatory law in Oklahoma known as Guinn vs. the United States, (1910). One of its proudest moments was the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education outlawing state-sponsored segregation of public elementary schools.

Dr. Jackson earned a bachelor's degree in theology, a masters in Christian Counseling and in 2016 she completed her doctorate in divinity. She is also an ordained minister. The hard-working Jackson joined the NAACP in 2016 as a lifetime member and began her successful tenure as the religious chair. "From there, I was appointed as the second vice president," she said. "In October (2018), I ran for president and was elected on Dec. 13, 2018. I'm looking to expand the branch because there's a lot of places – not just locally here in Hanford and Lemoore – that need our assistance. We work with all of Kings and Tulare Counties."

Jackson's ultimate goal as a member and current president is simple. "I love helping other people. I like advocating for people who can't advocate for themselves, or they don't have the resources at hand."

Kings County's NAACP "unit" was founded in 2000, and except for a few years, when it was dormant, it has continuously thrived.

Before she arrived in Lemoore, Jackson spent four years in the Navy.  "I went into the Navy in 1989. All my family had been in all the other branches. No one had been in the Navy, so I was the first one in my family to join the Navy."

The former Navy enlistee served in Desert Storm as an aviation ordnanceman. "I was stationed in Okinawa, Japan. I was also deployed during Desert Storm with my squadron VP 17 to Diego Garcia."

She credits her time in the Navy as a valuable learning experience. "It has helped me learn how to quickly adjust to change, proficiently organize, and effectively communicate with others," she said.

Along the way, she married Rodney Jackson, and the two have a blended family of four children.

Her goals?

It's simple. Jackson wants to help. Whether there is an injustice in the workplace or a case of high school bullying, Jackson and the NAACP are there to help. "A lot of complaints we're receiving  – and we're getting a lot of cases – is bullying," she said. "We've noticed an increased amount in schools and the workplace. The NAACP will investigate. Upon conclusion, it has been determined that 40 percent of our cases were discrimination based. These cases utilized a lot of time and resources. When it has escalated, we collaborated with law enforcement, fire department, mental health, and religious organizations. We have a lot of tools at hand.

"If a person feels discriminated against or disparaged, we have assisted. If it's work or education related, we've assisted. If parents have problems in the schools, we go in and investigate."

Although Kings County isn't perfect, Jackson says that she has found many working partners. "The one thing I can say is that they are open to listening. In a lot of areas, they are willing to listen and want to get assistance in trying to resolve the issue at the lowest possible level."

Another goal is to be more proactive in the community, not just locally, but at the state level as well, said Jackson. She also plans to provide more assistance in the local schools. "I envision starting a local high school chapter. We have national high school and college chapters, and I want to provide one here – that was my main issue – something for high school students, so kids aren't getting into trouble."

For additional information about the local NAACP, Jackson said prospective members can visit the Facebook page (NAACP 1039 Kings County) and download a membership application. New members are welcome and can also visit the local unit's website at www.naacp1039.org.

The annual membership fee is just $30. The local chapter meets once a month (second Thursday) at 6:30 p.m. in the Lemoore Veterans' Hall located at 411 West D St.

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