In Depth: The Educational Journey of E. Belle Jackson

Feb 20, 2012

Our series of Black History Month stories continues with a look back at the life and accomplishments of E. Belle Jackson; one of fifteen African American women who established Lexington's Colored Orphan Industrial Home more than a century ago.

Yvonne Giles, with the Isaac Scott Hathaway African American History Museum, says E. Belle Jackson was a courageous, conscientious woman far ahead of her time.

At the age of 16, Jackson was recruited by John G. Fee, (of Berea College fame), to teach recently emancipated blacks at Camp Nelson. Giles says prejudice was alive and well amongst the other teachers and she describes what happened when Miss Jackson was asked to leave the camp.

"She told them she was not leaving on Saturday, because that was laundry day, she would not leave on Sunday because that was the sabbath, she would leave on Monday. To think that someone so young was so sure of herself that she told these older whites that she would leave the camp at a time of her choosing is really quite extraordinary", Giles said.

Jackson later furthered her own education by attending Berea College. From there, she and 15 other African American Women went on to found the Colored Orphan Industrial Home on Georgetown Street. That property currently is home to the Robert H. Williams Cultural Center and the Isaac Scott Hathaway African American History Museum.

Special thanks to Yvonne Giles for helping us tell these important stories.