NEWBURGH – “Give them their flowers while they are still here to enjoy them.”
Those were the words by the Master of Ceremony Malcom Burks to describe the reason for last Monday night’s gathering. To celebrate Dr. Ronald L. Jackson.
For two hours, the standing room only crowd, paid homage to Dr. Jackson, who has given more than 50 years of service to educating students and serving his community.
Newburgh Mayor Torrance Harvey recounted how when he walked into Newburgh Free Academy as a substitute teacher in 1998, Dr. Ron Jackson made a huge impact on him. “I learned from the best,” Harvey recalled, continuing, “he was my role model.”
Lessons he learned from Jackson have stuck with him in his teaching career for the past 23 years. “You don’t see a lot of Black male role models in the school. You don’t see a lot of Black male role models in the class room with the students,” Harvey said. He attributed that absence with why certain things are going on the school today. “You have to have [more] Black male role models in the class room,” he said emphatically, alluding to the need for more Ron Jackson’s.
Fellow educators Matteo Doddo and Da’Ron Wilson also spoke about how Jackson was an invaluable mentor. Again, demonstrating the impact one person can have on so many without knowing.
Pastor Dr. Bruce Davis, expressed his personal feelings about Dr. Jackson, and extended it to his entire church family. “I believe the family of Ebenezer [Baptist Church] is so proud to have a man like him in the midst of our congregation,” Davis said. Sunday after Sunday, week after week, month after month, and year after year, Jackson is in church, Pastor Davis said, attesting to his strong faith system.
Eric Jackson, Ron’s younger brother, spoke of their upbringing and the emphasis placed on higher education by their parents. Both Ron and Eric would eventually attend Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
Eric Jackson also painted a nice picture of Ron’s athletic prowess that begin in his formative years. Of particular note, was how the family’s living room wall was adorned with numerous photo’s and awards of Ron’s athletic achievements.
An emotional Jackson, addressing those in attendance, thanked everyone who came, who spoke, and his family. He recalled his mother telling him, “God put you on this earth to service others.” And that is what he has been doing every since. “This is very overwhelming to me,” Jackson said.
Growing up in Virginia Jackson said they saw Black colleges as elementary kids. “We saw Black professors and teacher all the time… I grew up seeing what I needed to do. I’m proud and we need to recognize more HBCU schools and get all kids to go to those schools,” he concluded.
Jackson, who has served in both the Newburgh Enlarged City School District and the Poughkeepsie School District in numerous capacities, was presented with a Life Time Achievement Award by Da’Ron Wilson and Deacon Donald Fryer at the conclusion of the program.