Jackie was getting ready to start her sophomore year at Morris Brown College in August 1963. She was very aware of the March on Washington, as the students at Morris Brown (and the other historically black colleges: Clark, Spelman and Morehouse) were in the midst of the civil rights movement and were very active in sit-ins in Atlanta. However, Jackie was not in the group that was considering going to the march – that was mostly upperclassmen, and Jackie and her group of friends didn’t plan on going.
But Jackie’s younger cousin, Joyce Robinson, who was just getting into high school, did attend the march with a group of youth organized by Azzie Preston. Jackie did participate in some local marches that came through the Morris Brown campus, headed toward downtown. However, she didn’t go all the way to downtown Atlanta, which was the scene of some arrests and counter-demonstrations by angry white folks who opposed integration. Like many young men and women in the early 1960s, Jackie says she “didn’t dare tell her parents” that she was involved in the non-violent protests and marches, because she knew that they’d say she was supposed to be in school.
Jackie was born and raised in Atlanta and started school in a two-room schoolhouse in Tucker, which was out in the “country” at the time, complete with dirt roads! When it came to public transportation, Jackie’s parents usually drove, because it was too difficult to take the segregated public buses – there was a two- to three-mile walk to the bus stop, then many transfers on different buses. Jackie remembers her mother always instructed her that when she was on a city bus, she had to sit at the back.
She attended Hamilton High School in Scottdale, the black high school for central DeKalb County. (The other black high schools were Lynwood Park in the Brookhaven area and Bruce Street in Lithonia.) She remembers her segregated school bus driving past several white high schools to get to her school. Like so many other black elementary and high schools, Hamilton High was closed in 1969.