By the time, Montgomery Bus Boycotters sent empty buses past the old Jackson place in 1955, it had settled into a second life. In 1943 under President Zenobia Johnson, the Montgomery City Federation of Colored Women's Clubs purchased the residence for its 25 adult clubs and 15 youth c1ubs--and in the process redefined who came in through the front door. While outwardly wearing a faded and worn facade, the Jackson House strutted a different attitude and utility. Its new moniker, the Community House, suggested a simple theme, but to its' owners grappling everyday with the exigencies of "separate-but-equal' citizenship, the name captured the enormity of work to be done behind the color line: nation building, one brick at a time.
The women of the Montgomery Federation had organized in 1939, electing Hattie Alexander as their leader. They were associated with a series of turn-of-the-century groups nested in one another like Russian dolls, all promoting positive citizenship on both race and gender fronts, and doing so without castigating black men, These organizations were the 1896 National Association, Colored Women's Clubs, the 1899 Alabama Association of Colored Women's Clubs, and local clubs, notably "The Ten's" (1888) and the Anna M. Duncan Club (1897). Together, these women and federated sister groups formed an invaluable safety net for black women and the race, through the use of the Community House. It functioned as a Girl Scout headquarters, a popular and wholesome teenage rendezvous, an adult social and civic center, and beginning in December 1948, the city's first public library open to African Americans. Also, the building hosted meetings of the Women's Political Council. (which called into being the Montgomery Bus Boycott); a "Stork's Nest" for needy mothers; a Head Start kindergarten; voter registration; youth leadership training; tutorial and counseling programs for at -risk youth; family reunions, receptions, and weddings
Today, as workmen tackle the restoration, the Jackson-Community House interior and landscape artists work their magic on the grounds, the City Federation's Jackson-Community House Project, chaired by Sangernetta Gilbert Bush, invites all to join the effort to preserve this important antebellum landmark. Through community support, for example, many will sense by gone times while sitting in its spacious rooms or lingering on its ample green. The house is a legacy to the capital city's present and future. to blacks and whites together, and not sequentially, as in the segregated past. As Montgomery becomes increasingly a racially unified city, hopefully the Jackson-Community House will and thus enter a third life, one with an ever-bright future.
The Jackson - Community House
Mrs. Ann Cook, Chairperson
Mrs. Inella Campbell, Co-Chairperson
Mrs. Patricia R. Bell
Mrs. Betty Johnson
Mrs. Mary Smith
Mrs. Brenda Steele
Mrs. Janice Laneaux
Mrs. Jacqueline Barnett
Dr. Jacqueline Williams
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