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The Honorable Alphonso Jackson

Cabinet appointee Alphonso Jackson was born on September 9, 1945 in Marshall, Texas to Henrietta and Arthur Jackson and grew up in South Dallas as one of twelve children. Jackson learned the value of education and the importance of strong work ethic from his parents. He attended both Lincoln University in 1965 and A&M Commerce in 1966 on track scholarships before receiving his B.A. degree in political science from Northeast Missouri State University in 1968. In 1973, Jackson received his J.D. degree from Washington University School of Law.

Jackson's career began in 1973 as an assistant professor at the University of Missouri, St. Louis. From 1977 through 1981, Jackson became the Director of Public Safety for the City of St. Louis, Missouri. He also served as a director of consultant services for the certified public accounting firm, Laventhol and Horwath in St. Louis. Jackson was then appointed as Executive Director of the St. Louis Housing Authority. He held this position until 1983 and became the Director of the Department of Public and Assisted Housing in Washington, D.C. in 1987. In 1989, Jackson became president and CEO of the Housing Authority of the City of Dallas, Texas. Jackson’s executive title marked him as the first African American to head the agency, saving the Housing Authority from the racial discrimination law suits that had been mounting against it. During Jackson’s tenure, he worked to improve the dilapidated buildings and unsafe conditions that had become standard in the city’s neglected public housing units.

In 1996, Jackson left the public sector when American Electric Power-TEXAS hired him as President. There, Jackson ran the $13 billion company for the next five years, until he was appointed as the Housing and Urban Development’s Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer under the George W. Bush Administration. Working under then secretary, Mel Martinez, Jackson managed the daily operations of the $32 billion agency and its 9,300 employees. In 2004, the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Jackson as the nation’s thirteenth United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. This distinction marked Jackson as the third African American in the Bush Cabinet after Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell and Rod Paige, the Education Secretary. He resigned from this position on April 18, 2008. Since 2008, Jackson teaches at Hampton University as a professor and Director of the Center for Public Policy and Leadership. Jackson also serves on numerous national and state commissions including the General Services Commission of the State of Texas and the National Commission on America’s Urban Families.

Alphonso Jackson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 3, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.225

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/3/2007

Last Name

Jackson

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

St. Anthony Academy

Lincoln University

Texas A&M University - Commerce

Truman State University

Washington University School of Law

H.S. Thompson Elementary School

St. Peter Academy

First Name

Alphonso

Birth City, State, Country

Dallas

HM ID

JAC26

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Chicago, Illinois

Favorite Quote

There's No Place Like America.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Virginia

Interview Description
Birth Date

9/9/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Hampton

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Cabinet appointee The Honorable Alphonso Jackson (1945 - ) served as the nation’s thirteenth United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Employment

City of St. Louis

St. Louis Public Housing Authority

Department of Public and Assisted Housing

City of Dallas Housing Authority

Texas Southern University

United States Senate

Favorite Color

Gray

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Alphonso Jackson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson describes his mother's personality and accomplishments

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson reflects upon his memories of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson remembers the murder of his neighbor by a white policeman

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson describes his role among his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson recalls his community in South Dallas, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson remembers suffering from asthma

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson recalls his experiences of discrimination in his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson describes his religious background

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson describes his early personality

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson talks about his education in Catholic schools

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson describes his early writing talent

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson remembers joining the track team at St. Peter Academy in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson recalls his high school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson recalls his track and field competitions

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson recalls his decision to attend Lincoln University in Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson recalls joining the Philadelphia Pioneer Club

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson recalls transferring to the Northeast Missouri State Teachers College in Kirksville, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson recalls his transfer to East Texas State University in Commerce, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson recalls his experiences of discrimination on the track team at East Texas State University, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson recalls his experiences of discrimination on the track team at East Texas State University, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson remembers Coach Kenneth Gardner

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson recalls the death of his father

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson describes his undergraduate degree program

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson recalls his graduation from Northeast Missouri State Teachers College

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson remembers earning a master's degree

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson recalls his acceptance to law school

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson describes his experience at the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson recalls his activism at the Washington University School of Law

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson describes the community of St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson recalls his political activism in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson remembers the Selma to Montgomery March, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson remembers the Selma to Montgomery March, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson recalls his focus as a lawyer

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson remembers Frankie Freeman

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson remembers Margaret Bush Wilson

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson talks about his hometowns

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson recalls his position at the University of Missouri - St. Louis

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson recalls his work with John Danforth

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson recalls being selected as public safety director in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson describes the political climate of St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson remembers working for James F. Conway

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson recalls his role at the St. Louis Housing Authority

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson remembers running for comptroller of the City of St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson recalls his role at the District of Columbia Department of Public and Assisted Housing

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson talks about his start in public housing administration

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson describes the history of public housing in the United States

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson reflects upon the Model Cities program

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson describes his work for the Dallas Housing Authority

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson remembers the integration of public housing in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson describes his activism in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson describes his relationship with President George Walker Bush

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson describes his work at the Central and South West Corporation

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson recalls his role at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson describes his experiences at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson talks about public housing programs

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson describes his hopes for the future of public housing

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson talks about housing policy

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson reflects upon his personality

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - The Honorable Alphonso Jackson reflects upon his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$6

DAStory

10$3

DATitle
The Honorable Alphonso Jackson recalls his track and field competitions
The Honorable Alphonso Jackson describes his work at the Central and South West Corporation
Transcript
You're--you know, you're active in, you know, in the track team, you're competing. You compete--do you--do you compete statewide at that point?$$Statewide.$$Okay. And you're developing a name for your--you know, yourself. Now, was your track team one of the best track teams in the state? No?$$(Shakes head) No, I was one of the--I ended up being the, the best sprinter in the State of Texas in '67 [1967], '68 [1968], public or private. There were three of us and you--one was George Aldredge who was at Highland Park [Highland Park High School, Dallas, Texas], a very rich community. The other was Warren McVea who you've heard about from San Antonio [Texas] and myself. And Mr. Lark [ph.] got me a chance to, to participate in the public school track meets, which was rare because at that point in time, they were segregated. So you couldn't run against--the black high schools could not run against the white high schools in Dallas [Texas], but I had a chance, opportunity to run and beat George Aldredge in high school, and to beat Warren McVea. Now, you have to understand how things were in Texas. If you were in south Texas, San Antonio and south, schools were integrated, but if you were in north Texas starting with Waco [Texas] above, schools were totally segregated. And so Warren McVea was in an integrated environment down in San Antonio at Brackenridge [G.W. Brackenridge High School] and I was--I was not. And so when I ran against George Aldredge, it was because I was at the Catholic high school [St. Peter Academy, Dallas, Texas] that they permitted that. Because the bishop at that time talked to the athletic director in the Dallas public school system [Dallas Independent School District] and he permitted me to run in the meet. And I was the only black to, to run in a white meet at that time and that was '67 [1967] and '68 [1968]. So, I knew there was a difference. Now, we could compete against all the Catholic high schools even though they were white all over Texas, but we didn't compete necessarily against public schools. So half of our, our--plus, plus I played football, too, my sophomore, junior, and senior year. We would play Catholic high schools in Texas, but when we played public schools, we would play segregated public schools like in Ennis [Texas], Waco, Tyler, Texas.$You decided to leave public sector and go and seek--you know, have your real first, you know, business, non-public sector job?$$By accident again. I was on the board of the Boy Scouts [Boy Scouts of America] and the chairman of Central and South West Corporation named Dick Brooks [E. Richard Brooks] was the chairman of the metropolitan area, Fort Worth, Dallas [Texas], Boy Scouts, and he was also on the executive board of the national Boy Scouts. And he was very concerned that we did not have enough blacks and Hispanic Boy Scouts. So, he asked the executive director, he said, "Who can we get to help us get more black and Hispanic kids in the Boy Scouts?" So, Earl [ph.] recommended me and I became vice chair for urban scouting. But what Dick didn't understand and no one understood, they wanted to have three hundred black and Hispanic boys within the next two years. Well, I ran public housing. All I had was black and Hispanics. So, what occurred is within six months, I had like 310 people signed up. It took them about another four months to get all the uniforms. So, after I did that, Dick said, "That is just wonderful." And he called me, he said, "Let's have lunch." So, I said--I told my wife [Jackson's second wife, Marcia Jackson], I said, "Well, probably he's gonna ask me to go on his board." And so I had lunch with him and we talked for a few minutes and he says, "What do you expect to do after you leave the housing authority [Dallas Housing Authority]?" I said, "Well, I hadn't thought about that because I don't plan to leave." He said, "Well, we have a division called Central South West International," and he said, "I really need someone to come in as the vice president to negotiate all of our deals." I said, "I don't want to be a human rights--I mean, a human resource person." He said, "No," he said, "I'm talking about negotiating deals around the world." I said, "Well, what does that mean?" He says, "Just what I said." And he says, "I think you've got the right skills." So, I said to him, I said, "Well, let me talk to my wife." And I talked to my wife and she said, "Well, pursue it further and see what." So, I ended up going back, having an interview a couple of weeks later and after talking, I said, "That sounds great to me." And what I did at that point in time was I said, "What is this job going to pay?" He never answered the question. But in the end when I went for the final interview, it was--it was quite a lot and I became a corporate executive, which means you're a principal in the firm. And so I ended up going there. And it was easy transition because I really didn't have to know anything about the utility business. I had to negotiate deals for us. And as an attorney, it was easy to negotiate deals. So, I negotiated our deal in India, China, Brazil, England, and around the country. And after negotiating those deals, a couple of years later, he comes to me and said, "Why don't you become president and chief operating officer of Central South West, Texas," which was our major corporation in Texas. I said, "I really don't know anything about the regulating side of the business." He said, "That's no problem." And so what he did for a week, he got me a tutor, a very--expert in regulatory affairs and for ten hours a day, I stayed with that tutor and learned it and became president and chief operating officer. And then we merged with EP [American Electric Power (AEP)] and I stayed there until I came here with the president [President George Walker Bush].