Pioneer Profile: 10 Questions for our EPic Alum William P. Jackson

1 | Where did you grow up and what was it like?

I spent the first 10 years of my life in Riverdale, Georgia and the remainder of pre-adult years in Tyrone, Georgia. The thing I think folks need to know about the Atlanta metro area in the 1990s when I grew up is that it was really normal to be Black and middle class. I grew up in an environment when Black success wasn’t a rarity it was actually rather normal. Also because of the amount of Black success in Atlanta there was an inherent variety in what that success looked like so implicitly I thought there were many different identity pathways to success. It’s hard for me to overstate the importance of that, but I hope some folks get my point.

2 | What do you like most about where you live now?

Durham is an amazing town. I love my friends and the community around me. There are so many folks invested in having a more equitable space for folks of color. I love my city. I love the people in my city.

3 | What is your favorite school memory?

Reading Invisible Man and chemistry class (stoichiometry in particular).

4 | Which leader (alive or not, in any field) do you most admire?

Carter G. Woodson. He’s a boss. If you haven’t read Miseducation of a Negro you should.

5 | When was the first time you thought about working in education?

While I was tutoring in college. Probably second semester freshmen year.

6 | What has been your most memorable moment working in education?

My most memorable moments were working at Carver Early College High School in Atlanta. I had amazingly talented students, great co-workers, and a principal who taught me the valuable lesson of not blaming students for system level issues. (Even if she did that in some pretty unorthodox ways.)

7 | What do you love about your job?

I wake up every day working toward the mission to protect Black Genius. What’s not to love?

8 | If you had a magic wand, what’s one thing you would fix or change?

Inequitable access to resources based on race, gender and class

9 | What are you still learning to do?

How to manage, how to lead, how to be organized in how I share work with my team. How to not be socially awkward. How to build friendships with folks in my field that aren’t necessarily dependent on the work.

10 | What or who inspires you?

My wife - Modupe, my parents, and definitely my Grandmother Barbara Devoe Mason who was an educator and lived a life that inspired me to believe that I could do whatever I put my mind to. 

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