Carol Jackson, chairwoman for the Ashland Human Rights Commission, accurately describes herself when she says she has always taken a low-key approach to leadership. While she has never been one to attract many headlines for her advocacy of human rights and quality education, her style has been effective in bringing positive changes to this community.
As a result of her more than a decade as head of the commission and her role as a member and now chairwoman of the Ashland Board of Education, Jackson, 60, was recently inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame. She joins former Mayor David Welch as the only two Ashland residents to be so honored. Welch, who has spent his entire adult life as an effective advocate of equal treatment for all, was a charter member of the hall of fame in 2000.
Jackson is one of 14 members of the hall’s 2012 class. She is the new only inductee from northeastern Kentucky. Except an inductee from Owensboro and Jackson, all the other new members of the hall of fame are from Lexington and Louisville.
Jackson said her selection to the hall was a “complete shock” mainly because of her low-key style of leadership. “I like to work behind the scenes. I don’t like recognition,” she said. “The things I do, I do them from the heart.”
As chairwoman of the commission, which was created during Welch’s term as mayor more than 30 years ago, the agency has established an office on the seventh floor of the Community Trust Bank building. Prior to that, the commission met “after hours” at the city building, Jackson said.
Some of Jackson’s more memorable endeavors have included organizing the Agri-Cultural Fair, an event to celebrate the heritage of northeastern Kentuckians, and a community rally to offset a local appearance by the virulently anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, which came to Boyd County on a bitterly cold January day to espouse a message of hate so bigoted that even those who opposed a local Gay-Straight Alliance did not want to be associated with the church’s protest.
Jackson also created the Mayor’s Youth Council to encourage young people to learn more about local government. And, under her leadership, the commission hosts annual “Conversations About Race” forums to promote dialogue on human-rights issues. She has also worked with the National Conference on Community and Justice to bring diversity training to the Ashland schools for administrators, teachers and students.
One cannot accurately measure Jackson’s effectiveness by how many times she has been quoted in this newspaper. That’s not her style, but her quiet, low-key style is effective. She is well deserving of her induction to the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame. We congratulate her.