An emotional Mayor Steve Gilmore expressed the importance and the goal of the Carol Jackson Unity Center at its dedication this week.

“If more of us were like Carol Jackson, we wouldn't need a police department,” Gilmore said.

Community members are meant to work together to better their surroundings. Jackson did her part. The first Black woman to be elected to the Ashland Independent school district board, Jackson spent her life working for equality in education and housing in the area.

Improving education and housing are crucial to the improvement of a community.

Studies have found higher levels of education are associated with a wide range of positive outcomes, including better health, higher social trust, greater political interest, lower political cynicism and less hostile attitudes towards immigrants. Those who lack education often have more difficulty getting ahead, have worse health and are poorer. They have a shorter lifespan and face unemployment, exploitation and gender inequality at a highter rate.

All these negative influences work together, and they can be attacked together. One way is to unify each community and empower residents to pinpoint issues and find ways to fix them.

That's where Gilmore's statement comes in: “If more of us were like Carol Jackson, we wouldn't need a police department.”

Unfortunately, the world will ever be full of Carol Jacksons, but his point is well taken.

Improvements in difficult communities will reduce the communities’ difficulties. The unity center, at 3032 Rail Road Ave., aims to make those improvements by providing children a safe playground and everyone resources they need to better themselves. A police presence will be included there, too.

“This is supposed to be a place for people to come together and use it for how the neighborhood sees fit,” Gilmore said.

We hope the community defines the unity center as it sees fit, and that the center will serve a positive purpose. We also hope the center will be a reminder of Carol Jackson and her work and dedication, and will inspire others to fight for the good of their communities.

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