William P. Jackson

William P. Jackson
Location: Durham, North Carolina Cohort Start Year: 2018 Project Topics: Behavioral and Mental Health, Education, Health Care Access, IT/Technology, Public, Population and Community Health Populations Served: African-American/Black, Children and Families, Foster Youth and Families, Low-Income Communities
Chief Dreamer
Village of Wisdom

William imagines a day when parents of black children don’t have to prepare them for the emotional and mental harm that is associated with experiencing racial discrimination. In fact, William imagines a day where the schools black children attend feed and grow their mental and emotional health by affirming the culture, contributions, and history of their ancestors. Unfortunately, in 2018, research suggests that more than 90 percent of black high school students experience some form of racial discrimination in school. William’s work through Village of Wisdom is supporting black families and communities as they build their capacity to heal their children from the trauma of experiencing racial bias. As well, he works with families as they imagine the affirming environments they want their children to learn in, and then works with his team and community to convert these dreams into tools, trainings, and assessments to make them a reality.

STRATEGIC INITIATIVE: Community-based Transformation of Systems of Education Injustice in Durham, North Carolina
The most arduous challenge facing local education Agencies across this nation is how to support the socioemotional, mental health, and intellectual needs of students, using methods such as culturally responsive learning strategies and fostering belonging in a distance learning environment. Indeed, education and community leaders fear that already disparate learning gaps between students of color caused by the racial inequities will be compounded as students spend time away from school. My series of listening sessions we co-hosted with local partners, black teachers, parents, and principals confirmed that the black community in Durham, North Carolina, is particularly worried that black children are being further left behind. We are partnering with people in our community, including community-based participatory research experts, professional development providers, and those that support families seeking to navigate and ultimately transform systems of education injustice.

William has been fighting for black children to receive a fair and just education since 2006. Specifically, the organization he founded, Village of Wisdom, works with families as they wrap their children in the love and wisdom necessary to navigate the emotional trauma of experiencing racial bias in school. As William looks forward, he hopes to lead work that develops his community’s ability to create new school systems where black children expect to be welcomed and affirmed.

Click here to watch William’s Legacy Project video.