Each week this summer we’re profiling a character from Studs Terkel’s 1992 oral history, Race. Twenty years after Studs’ book was published, we want to see how these characters' thoughts and feelings on race have changed…or not changed.
As part of our series “Race: Out Loud,” we’re asking people to read – or re-read – Studs’ book and to speak up about what feelings the book stirs up in them. We invite you to follow along and to join the discussion at www.WBEZ.org/raceoutloud.
Last week we profiled Dr. Marvin Jackson and this week we talk with his mom, Carol Jackson, 68,who's retired and lives in the Chatham neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. She appears in Race under the pseudonym Carol Freeman.
Jackson first met Studs when she was 21 years old and pregnant with her son Marvin. The next time she and Studs spoke, she was 46 years old. Twenty years later, Studs is gone; Jackson is still full of wisdom and insight about race.
Here she reads a quote from her mother that Studs used in the first chapter of his first oral history book Division Street: America. It’s a quote Carol and Studs revisited in Race.
In the 1960s Carol worked in the Civil Rights movement with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and had the opportunity to go to Alabama. As a result of her work around Civil Rights, she was thrown in jail and spat on, she says. Studs wanted to know: "Why were we not bitter? Why was there no retaliation?" Jackson's experiences in Alabama taught her about the importance of compassion, which in turn helped her to understand what her mother meant by the "Feeling Tone."
Here she talks about her conversation with Studs for the book.
Though her own mother didn't earn a high school degree until later in life, Jackson felt that it was critical for her son Marvin to attend private schools. Here she explains the logic behind her decision to send him to somewhere other than public schools.
Below is a photo of Carol Jackson's mom, Lucille Dickerson (aka Lucy Jefferson in Studs' books) and an interview with her and Studs Terkel from the 1960s, courtesy of the Chicago History Museum.
Next week we'll talk with Jim Capraro about how his experiences in Marquette Park and beyond.
**Eilee Heikenen-Weiss contributed to this report.