Political official and civic leader Edna Jackson was born on September 18, 1944 in Savannah, Georgia to Henry Reid and Georgia Branch Dillard. She graduated from Alfred E. Beach High School in 1962, and then earned her B.S. degree in sociology in 1968, and her M.Ed. degree in political science education in 1972, both from Savannah State University. Having joined the NAACP Youth Council as a high school student, Jackson became active while at Savannah State, travelling throughout the South for voter registration drives and sit-in demonstrations.
Jackson began her career as a social worker with the Economic Opportunity Authority for Savannah-Chatham County Area, Inc. In 1971, Savannah State University President Prince Jackson, Jr. hired Jackson as the director of the university’s emergency school assistant program. During her time there, she also worked as the director of alumni affairs and coordinator of the Elderhostel Program before her retirement in 2001. Jackson then served as alderman at large on the City Council of Savannah for three terms, and mayor pro tempore of Savannah for two terms. In 2012, Jackson became the first African American woman to be elected as mayor of Savannah, serving for one term.
Jackson was the recipient of the A Working Woman in Need’s Top 10 Working Women of the Year Award. She was also named an Outstanding Alumnus by Savannah State University and one of the 2012 Power Women by GeorgiaTrend magazine.
Jackson also served as the southern regional vice president and national vice president of Savannah State University, as vice chairman of the Chatham County Democratic Executive Committee, as a member of the board of representatives for World Trade Center Savannah, and as a chairperson of the Chatham County Hospital Authority. She was also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., St. Phillip A.M.E. Church, the U.S. Selective Board, and the Georgia Advisory Committee for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. U.S. Congressman John Barrow appointed Jackson to serve on the Military Academy Selection Committee and the Regional Committee of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. She also served on the Board of Directors for the Savannah Regional Second Harvest Food Bank and on the board of the Equal Opportunity Authority.
Jackson has one son, Kevan Jackson.
Edna Jackson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 8, 2017.