Amber Jackson knew she wanted to be a teacher.
Growing up in Columbia, S.C., Jackson loved school and saw it as a welcome escape.
“The great teachers were inspiring,” she said, “but even the bad ones taught me something.”
Following her 2007 high school graduation, Jackson attended Winthrop University. She graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.
That summer, Jackson took a job as an intern with Freedom School (a six-week summer literacy program) working with third- through fifth-graders. That made for a smooth transition to her first teaching job at Reid Park Academy where she taught third grade.
“I loved it,” Jackson said of her Freedom School and classroom teaching experience. “I could be what those great teachers were for me for someone else. If not an inspiration, then a heart and an ear for every child. A lot of those kids are escaping something too.”
Jackson, 26, now lives in South Charlotte.
At the end of the day, I’m going to do it because it is important to me. As an educator, I love sharing information with people and broadening their views. That is my reward.
She has continued to work at Freedom School in the summers, now as a site coordinator at Reid Park. She also taught there during the school year until this year, and is now teaching a fourth grade class at Gold Hill Elementary School in Fort Mill.
In April 2014, Jackson was on a plane headed to New Orleans for a spring break trip with a college friend. They were discussing race-related issues in the news and Jackson lamented the fact that there wasn’t, as she put it, “a space for positive news about young people.”
Her friend suggested Jackson create one.
Jackson spent the remainder of the plane ride jotting down ideas in a notebook, coming up with a name and an overall theme.
She decided to call the website “Activist Inspired,” a tie-in to her college sorority nickname (because she was the community service leader and activist on campus) and because she wanted to focus on people who were inspiring.
“The main idea, is that I wanted to highlight people who are doing good things,” Jackson said.
Her targeted audience is in the 18-30 age range, although she is quick to point out that her blog is written “for anyone interested in reading it.”
“I am trying to inspire young African-Americans, but I’m also trying to make them mainstream, so a larger audience is helpful,” she said.
She currently posts two to three times each month, but she is hoping to post weekly. She has borrowed from other social media sites and ideas to formulate a vision that includes Moral Monday (targeting a moral issue, like marriage laws or the 14th amendment); Current Events Tuesday (featuring something in the news, like the Jonathan Ferrell case); Activist Crush Wednesday (when she profiles someone inspiring) and Throwback Thursday (highlighting historical events).
Jackson said her advocacy begins with the facts. She then offers suggestions on how “to educate yourself if you feel moved to act” and how to act – links to protest groups or discussion gatherings.
She said she has heard from some readers who thank her for helping them think about a topic in a new way and for being a voice of inspiration. Jackson said she values the feedback, but her commitment to the site is not contingent on meeting numbers.
“At the end of the day, I’m going to do it because it is important to me,” Jackson said. “As an educator, I love sharing information with people and broadening their views. That is my reward.”
Katya Lezin is a freelance: bowserwoof.com.
To view Amber Jackson’s website, visit www.activistinspired.com.