Full Name
Susanne Jackson
Job Title
Anti-apartheid, Women's Liberation, welfare rights, and anti-racism activist for more than 60 years
Speaker Bio
Susanne Jackson has been involved in anti-apartheid, anti-Vietnam War, Women's Liberation, welfare rights, anti-racism, and parent organizing efforts for more than 60 years. A Detroit native, she has been advocating for public education since her days as a high school student in Livonia, Michigan and is active now with Stand for Children and MICAH (Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope). She graduated from the University of Michigan with honors in 1965 with a degree in Political Science.

In Washington DC, Susanne served as lead organizer for the 1967 100,000 person demonstration at the Pentagon in opposition to the Vietnam War, and in 1968 coordinated more than 100 white people to radically respond in supportive, anti-racist actions when Dr. King was assassinated, and 100 cities were devastated in urban uprisings. She participated in the 1968 pre-Venceremos Brigade Cuban visit, was part of an international work camp in South Korea and Japan, and visited post-apartheid South Africa.

Living in deep South Memphis since 1972, Susanne has been an active advocate within the community. She coached middle school students at the Memphis Urban League who successfully advocated for a million-dollar renovation to a neglected park adjacent to their school. Susanne served as senior communications specialist at First Tennessee Bank and initiated Building for the Future, a collaboration of a dozen plus partner entities, where thousands of incarcerated men and women received training and built 250 affordable quality homes over 20 years while many also earned their GED’s. Significantly, the program cut recidivism by 40%. During her tenure with the bank, she developed community reinvestment initiatives and was instrumental in producing the first public showing of renowned photojournalist Ernest Withers’ critical work of the segregated South. She also facilitated a bank collective that created a recycling program that led to 85% recycling of the two tons of paper used daily.

As an artist activist, Susanne designed editorial cartoons for the Tri-State Defender, a Black-owned weekly newspaper in Memphis, TN and created thousands of caricatures and coordinated cartooning workshops for all libraries and Boys and Girls Clubs across the county. Susanne most recently served as an education union organizer assisting education support professionals to secure the first-ever contract which included living wages.

Susanne has been recognized by the Tennessee State Legislature, Memphis City Council and Shelby County School Board for her unwavering activism.Susanne has been featured in several award-winning books and publications including Washington Post, The Commercial Appeal, Daring to Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America 1967-1975, and Norman Mailer’s Pulitzer Prize award-winning non-fiction novel, Armies of the Night. In 2017, Susanne served as a speaker and panelist at the Vietnam Peace Commemoration Committee’s 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War in Washington, DC alongside prominent journalists, authors and activists. The event was covered by C-SPAN.

Susanne is most inspired by the legacy of her children - Chevara, Bacardi and Cardell - and six grandchildren who continue to pursue equity and justice in their communities.
Susanne Jackson

Presenting at the following session(s):

Building Solidarity in the Midst of Division