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Ainka Jackson Recognized for Commitment to Advocacy and Justice Work

November 2018

Spelman Alumna Ainka JacksonAinka Jackson, C’2000, is a lawyer, teacher, and social worker who believes in advocating for justice and equity.

“Being born in Montgomery and raised in Selma, foot soldiers were a part of my daily reality. My parents are civil rights attorneys and activists, so I was literally birthed into advocacy,” said the executive director of The Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth & Reconciliation at Healing Waters Retreat Center. “Spelman then nurtured what was planted inside of me.”

The Center, founded in 2015 during the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March and Bloody Sunday, received a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to engage the Selma community in racial reconciliation and transformation.

Committed to Advocacy and Change

“Advocacy is my life’s work,” said Jackson, who was recently profiled by Essence Magazine as one of the “Women Who Turned The Tide In Alabama.” “I’ve committed my life to fighting for the least of these.”

Jackson was previously the Metro Guardian ad Litem for the Metro Nashville Public Defender's Office, where she represented children who have been abused or neglected.  Prior to that, she was a Department of Children's Services case manager, a teacher and an assistant public defender, adult division. She has witnessed how these systems connect and feed into one another, and for four years she received weekly nonviolence training with Rev. James Lawson.

Making Strides to Disrupt the Cradle-to-Prison Pipeline

Born in Montgomery, Alabama and and raised in Selma, Alabama, Jackson appreciates that every successful legal and legislative movement required a people movement. Therefore, she also helps organize students, parents and the faith community to address the over-representation of black and brown children in the juvenile justice system and being pushed out of school, as well as mass incarceration.

As a co-founder of the Nashville Campaign to End the New Jim Crow, she has helped organize mass incarceration forums for judicial, district attorney and mayoral candidates; and recently, Jackson was one of the organizers and presenters for the Revisioning Justice Conference at Vanderbilt University where Michelle Alexander, Bryan Stevenson and Howard Zehr were keynote speakers.

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