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Hal Jackson

Born on November 3, 1914 in Charleston, South Carolina to Eugene Baron Jackson (a tailor) and Laura Rivers Jackson, Hal Jackson became one of the most important radio personalities of all time.

When Jackson was eight, his parents died within five months of each other. After living with his sisters and other relatives, he moved out on his own in 1928 - at the age of 13. Two years later, he moved north, settling in Washington, D.C. He attended Howard University, where his interests in sports and broadcasting grew. By the late 1930s, Jackson was an announcer for Howard University and Griffith Stadium.

In 1939, Jackson approached WINX in Washington, D.C. and proposed a radio show. Management flatly refused. Undeterred, Jackson purchased airtime through a wholesale buyer of radio. He interviewed pioneering African Americans during his talk and music program, highlighting achievements of the community. His show proved so popular that, within six months, Jackson was able to buy airtime and sell ads on three additional stations in different cities! Broadcasting live from each station, Jackson worked extremely long hours.

In the early 1940s, Jackson organized the Washington Bears. This black basketball team played against white local and professional teams and finished the 1942-43 season with a record of 66-0. He also began the Good Deed Club, which donated toys, money, books, and volunteers to hospitals and others. In the spring of 1949, Jackson's television variety show premiered. At the end of that year, he moved to New York with his radio show, "The House that Jack Built." By the mid-1950s, he was again working at multiple stations. As the first African American announcer on network radio, he attracted the largest radio audience in the world at that time. Jackson continued to succeed in television as well, hosting a Sunday morning children's show, Uncle Hal's Kids Show.

Through the years, Jackson's civic works became legendary. He used every opportunity to improve people's lives-from busing groups of underprivileged children to the Palisades Amusement Park, to establishing a scholarship fund for Howard University. He also began Hal Jackson's Talented Teens International, a scholarship competition that has impacted over 30,000 young women of color. Jackson used his position and popularity to agitate for civil rights and actively participated in numerous history-making events. The NAACP and the SCLC benefited from his fundraising efforts. In 1969, Jackson helped African American models gain recognition by hosting The Miss Black America Pageant. In 1971, Jackson and other African American entrepreneurs founded Inner City Broadcasting and bought stations all over the country.

Jackson has hosted "Sunday Classics," on New York radio station WBLS for over a decade. Jackson was the first African American inducted into the Broadcast Hall of Fame, and several U.S. Presidents have honored him with special achievement awards.

Bibliography:
Jackson, Hal. The House that Jack Built. New York: HarperCollins, 2001.

Hal Jackson passed away on May 23, 2012.

Accession Number

A2002.007

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

3/5/2002

Last Name

Jackson

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Avery Normal Institute

DeWitt Clinton High School

Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

Search Occupation Category
Archival Photo 2
First Name

Hal

Birth City, State, Country

Charleston

HM ID

JAC02

Favorite Season

November

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Warm

Favorite Quote

It Is Nice To Be Important, But It Is Important To Be Nice.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

11/3/1914

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Carribean, Jamaican Food

Death Date

5/23/2012

Short Description

Radio personality and sports promoter Hal Jackson (1914 - 2012 ) was a legendary presence on New York City radio stations for his work on many programs, including Sunday Classics on WBLS, which he hosted for more than a decade.

Employment

Howard University

Washington Bears

Miss Black America Pageant

Inner City Broadcasting Corporation

WBLS Radio

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Hal Jackson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Hal Jackson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Hal Jackson describes his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Hal Jackson describes his earliest memories

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Hal Jackson describes the deaths of both of his parents when he was eight years old

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Hal Jackson describes his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Hal Jackson describes his relationships to his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Hal Jackson describes his childhood personality

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Hal Jackson talks about attending Avery Normal Institute for elementary school

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Hal Jackson describes living on his own means as a teenager in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Hal Jackson describes his experience at Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Hal Jackson describes his decision to attend Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Hal Jackson reflects upon his relationships with his older sisters

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Hal Jackson describes getting his start in sports writing and announcing with Sam Lacey

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Hal Jackson describes the first time he went on the air at WINX as a baseball announcer

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Hal Jackson describes his early success in radio broadcasting, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Hal Jackson describes his early success in radio broadcasting, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Hal Jackson describes being a single parent to his daughter Jane

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Hal Jackson talks about meeting his second wife, Julia Hawkins

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Hal Jackson describes working with Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Hal Jackson describes the popularity of his WINX sports show

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Hal Jackson describes his experience as owner of the Washington Bears basketball team, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Hal Jackson describes his experience as owner of the Washington Bears basketball team, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Hal Jackson talks about some of the athletes who played with the Washington Bears

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Hal Jackson talks about why he left the Washington Bears

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Hal Jackson talks about two times he almost became the first black baseball announcer for a professional team

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Hal Jackson talks about his influences in broadcasting

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Hal Jackson talks about his experience with Richard Eaton at WOOK in Silver Spring, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Hal Jackson talks about his community involvement

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Hal Jackson reflects upon the importance of humility

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Hal Jackson describes organizing the union for his coworkers at WOOK in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Hal Jackson describes launching 'The House that Jack Built' on television in 1949

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Hal Jackson describes adapting to television from radio

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Hal Jackson describes his experience working for WABC, WMCA, and WLIB

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Hal Jackson talks about some of the musicians he met while working at Birdland

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Hal Jackson describes his experiences living in Harlem, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Hal Jackson remembers broadcasting live from the funeral of Bill Bojangles

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Hal Jackson describes his friendship with Rose Morgan

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Hal Jackson describes working with Parks Sausage founder Henry Parks

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Hal Jackson recalls his Sunday morning children's television broadcast 'Uncle Hal's Kiddie Show'

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Hal Jackson talks about returning to WLIB in 1955 and purchasing the station with Percy Sutton in 1971

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Hal Jackson describes launching WHUR-FM at Howard University in 1971

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Hal Jackson describes his friendship with United States Representative Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Hal Jackson describes meeting Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Hal Jackson describes being suspended from WLIB during the Payola scandal in the late 1950s

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Hal Jackson describes radio personality Douglas "Jocko" Henderson

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Hal Jackson describes Alan Freed and the payola scandal in the late 1950s

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Hal Jackson describes his experience at the Palisades Amusement Park

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Hal Jackson talks about returning to radio after the payola scandal

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Hal Jackson talks about some of the acts he featured at the Palisades Amusement Park

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Hal Jackson talks about Motown Records founder Berry Gordy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Hal Jackson remembers his reaction to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Hal Jackson describes his involvement in creating a national holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Hal Jackson talks about hosting Miss Black America in 1969

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Hal Jackson describes starting his Talented Teen competition in 1971

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Hal Jackson describes hosting the first Miss Black Teenage America program in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Hal Jackson talks about some of the winners and performers on his Talented Teens International show

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Hal Jackson talks about founding the Inner City Broadcasting Corporation with Percy Sutton in 1971

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Hal Jackson talks about his current work with Talented Teens International and Inner City Broadcast Corporation

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Hal Jackson reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Hal Jackson describes how it feels for him to get behind a microphone

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Hal Jackson reflects upon the progress of blacks in the communications industry during his lifetime

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Hal Jackson reflects upon how the communications industry enhanced his life

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Hal Jackson reflects upon his parents

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Hal Jackson narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Hal Jackson narrates his photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Hal Jackson narrates his photographs, pt. 3

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$2

DAStory

3$10

DATitle
Hal Jackson describes the first time he went on the air at WINX as a baseball announcer
Hal Jackson describes his experience as owner of the Washington Bears basketball team, pt. 1
Transcript
And those were times when, you know, they would rent, they probably had, they had black days when they would rent out the [baseball] stadium, right?$$Yeah.$$For, for the teams [Negro League Baseball].$$Well, and that's when they made the big money. The regular team, which was in the American League, the Washington Senators, they would draw 3, 4,000, but when the blacks came in 32,000 and Satchel Paige and, you know, the, the blacks, the people, really turned out. And the whites turned out too for these black games and that's when it started going all around the country and I was anxious to, you know, broadcast the games and I ran around--A guy named C.C. Coley he was, he had barbecue places, about eight or ten (he was a black guy), and I spoke to him about if I got a thing going would he sponsor it. He said, You know I will," and, and that's why when I went into this WINX at 8th and I [Streets] and talk to them about it [in 1939]. You know and the guy calls everybody in and said "Can you imagine this 'N-----' talking about going on this radio." The Washington Post owned that station too by the way. And "none will ever go on this radio station." He, he called his people in. So, I went to wholesaler who buys time and nobody questioned him because he's bringing the station so much money as to what they were gonna put on. And I got Coley to give him the money and we got all set to go on the air. They didn't know what was going on. We sat outside the car. I had Dr. [Mary McLeod] Bethune out there. I had Dr. Charles Drew out there and, and, and when the time came we just went and went on the air and it took off so big that four days later Annapolis [Maryland] was calling me, Baltimore [Maryland] was calling wanting me to do the same kind of show there. So, there I am now and it started picking up. I said, "What is this?" I would do a wake-up show in Washington [D.C.], go to Annapolis because those were the days you couldn't pipe in like, you know, in Washington and talk to Annapolis. Go into Annapolis for two hours, go to Baltimore and do a little sports summary, and come back to Washington and do a four-three, so it, it was feast or famine. I was doing four radio shows a day and finishing about 12, 1 o'clock at night. But, it was inspirational. I felt good doing it.$Now, talk about how you got started as a, a basketball team owner.$$(Laughter) Well, you know I love sports so much and having played football, basketball, and baseball I, Sam and I, Sam Lacey--there was a place in Washington [D.C.], nothing. Blacks were not allowed to play in what was then the N.B.A. [National Basketball Association]. No black players. Okay, so I had always followed these, some of the guys played in New York on independent teams, and it was during the war [World War II] and they work at Grumman, Grumman Aircraft [Corporation], so they were exempt from the Service and I said to Sam, "You know what maybe we can put some kind of team" and Wa, Washington didn't have a team in what was then the N.B.A. So, I went to this beautiful arena, Uline, Mike Uline's arena [now the Washington Coliseum], and well he knew I was a sports writer. He didn't want me to knock it, he didn't really care, but I said, "How is it you don't let black people, you know, come here." "Oh, they're welcome, you come on in bring some people." But, then I would look up I'd be the only one there with my people. So, I asked him about playing basketball in his arena. Oh, no he couldn't have that, but it was an ice arena. They had hockey and all. Now, I said, "Well Washington don't have any team. I'm gonna put a team in Washington." "Where you gonna play?" I wrote to a guy named Joe Turner. He used to have a big arena [Turner's Arena] for wrestling and everything and I showed him, Sam and I, showed him how he could block it out and play basketball. And he said, "Oh yeah, so yeah, we said we'd do it." I brought the C.I.A.A. [Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association] there afterward, the--(unclear)--the col, black colleges they had no place and I'd bring them there for their tournament and everything. But, anyway I showed him how he could do it. Ahmet Ertegun, the, you know, was there with the Turkish embassy. He was in Washington and he would be there every Sunday with me. We played every Sunday afternoon and we played all of the teams that were in, what was then the NBA. We beat up everybody. It was unbelievable and packed 'em in. So, then the word got around so that-- in Chicago [Illinois] where they have the World's Championship, Frank Forbes who was one of the big men in Chicago went to the mayor and he said "You know they have a team in Washington, they got a team now it's not in the NBA, but we ought to invite them out here for the World's Championship Professional Basketball Tournament." It was something and they called me and they asked me because we had a record of like, I think we only lost two games out of like 80, 82 games. So, this guy Forbes said "Man you gotta do it." So, I went out, he took me to the mayor and the mayor says you know, "You think this team can compete." I said "Yeah." He said well we'll invite 'em out to the tournament [in 1943]. So, we got on the train. Mike Uline, no, the guy who owned in Washington all the, don't forget now all the theaters was segregated, and this guy owned oh about twelve black theaters and I made a deal with him. I said, "If you let me advertise on the screen about the teams and the games I'll put your name on the jerseys" and he said, "Great." He was a very, very good guy. And I said you got a deal, fine.