LIMA — February marks Black History Month in the United States, but area black leaders remind us there are historic figures still doing good work in the region.
The week, The Lima News profiles five of those inspirational community leaders, Frank Lamar, Ann Miles, Chris Jackson, Beverly McCoy and the Rev. Bob Horton. Today we look at Jackson.
A Lima Fire inspector, Chris Jackson usually recognizes the people he comes into contact with when he hears the alarm for a house fire.
That’s mostly due to his commitment and involvement with the community in his years in the city. He is heavily involved in youth coaching and church activities because with nine kids of his own, Jackson strongly cares about the community’s youth.
Originally from Cleveland, his family migrated to Lima after his father was diagnosed with cancer. After his father’s diagnosis, they frequently visited Lima because the family’s next-door neighbor was married to a Lima pastor, with whom his father enjoyed visiting.
Jackson, now 49, started his career as a corrections officer at the prison for a few years. From there, he became a Lima Police Officer and then took the test to become a firefighter.
“For me, I started out with sports. I volunteered with the local young people in sports and as time went on, I’ve joined several different organizations,” Jackson said. “It comes from my background. Before my father passed away, he was really active with sports. My mom was also. To me, as I watch things happen in life, I feel a lot of people need direction and role models.”
Getting involved with numerous organizations with kids that look to Jackson as a role model is something he takes seriously.
“When people do recognize me, it makes me feel good and makes me feel like a lot of the stuff I do is making a difference,” he said. “To me, it’s just what God called me to do. It’s what I’m supposed to be doing, getting involved in the community.”
Jackson said black history is something he hopes Lima’s youth is interested in and remembers. Not only does that remind our youth not to take rights for granted, but it also teaches them self-worth, he said.
“Even at 5 years old, I remember the riots. I can remember the particular street we lived on was a main street and there were several Army tanks going down the street,” he said. “There were several nights that we actually had to sleep in our clothes because there were different buildings in our neighborhood that had been set ablaze. It hit home with me at a young age. Now that I’m older, it’s so important with the history to educate them.”
Black history is something he hopes to perpetuate with his children, as well.