Phillip Jackson dedicated his life to providing opportunities and improving the quality of life for others. His life was a true testament to what is possible with hard work, perseverance and dedication to a cause. After a battle with cancer, Mr. Jackson moved into the ancestral realm on Sunday, November 4, 2018 at 5:30 pm. surrounded by family and friends at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL. He is survived by four sisters and a host of family and friends.
Phillip Jackson was born into and resided in public housing in Chicago. Mr. Jackson attended 11 Chicago public schools with varying levels of success. He graduated from Roosevelt University with honors with a degree in Philosophy and studied education at National College of Education.
During his career, Mr. Jackson had been Vice President and Director of Operations for one of Chicago’s oldest and largest chain of booksellers; President of EF/MS, a family-run business; Assistant Budget Director for the City of Chicago; Chief of Staff for Chicago Public Schools; Chief Executive Officer for the Chicago Housing Authority; Chief for Education for the City of Chicago; CEO for Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago. At the time of his death, he was founder and chairperson of The Black Star Project, which was designed to help children and students realize their educational and life potential.
Some of The Black Star Project’s signature initiatives include the national annual Million Father March that organized about 1 million fathers in more than 600 cities to take their children to school on the first school day; Saturday University—a system of free community-based learning centers designed to remediate and augment K-12 students’ skills in reading, writing and math with the support of parents, communities, and an army of volunteers; Student Motivation and Mentoring Program, designed to motivate youths to succeed in life, has facilitated interactive whole-classroom sessions with more than 375,000 students in 260 Chicago-area schools; Destination College to help prepare 7th- through 12th-grade students for college success; a host of parent engagement initiatives. Most recently, the Project has shifted its focus to “All Things Economic.” Financial literacy programs, an economic empowerment series as well as Circulate Black Dollars in the Black Community and Becoming the Next Black Millionaire are some of the initiatives recently undertaken. His sister, Gloria Smith, and other committed staff continue the legacy of the Project.
Mr. Jackson received national attention for his work to eliminate the racial academic achievement gap. He was honored as an Education Champion of Change for America by The White House, Champion of Social Justice by the Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy, Citizen of the Year by Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Monarch Man of the Year in Education by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Reclaim Our Youth Honoree by Operation Push, Education Man of the Year for the Bud Billiken Parade, Illinois Educator of the Year for the 7th Congressional District of Illinois and the Ricky Birdsong Father of the Year Award for the State of Illinois by the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative. He was also named as one of the Chicago Defender’s “50 Men of Excellence” and received the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Community Empowerment Award.
Mr. Jackson earned a bachelors degree in philosophy from Roosevelt University in Chicago. He dedicated his life to educating poor urban children in the United States and until his death, continued to take on larger and more challenging projects with a commitment to making the world a better place. Phillip Jackson was an exemplary model of leadership for countless numbers of people and a true “servant of the people.”
November 5, 2018