Note: This month, the Office of Equity and Diversity will be talking with UTHSC leaders in recognition of Black History Month.
Rosalind Jackson Donald
Administrative Specialist II
Office of Faculty Affairs
College of Medicine
OED: What does Black History Month mean to you? Why is it important?
Jackson-Donald: Black History Month celebrates my history, it’s my every day. Black History Month is important to me because it highlights the many accomplishments made by Black people. Black History Month is a time when we celebrate and educate others on the history of Black America. It’s a time to emphasize the strides and struggles of those who came before us. It’s also a time when we give thanks and pay homage to our ancestors upon whose shoulders we stand. Black History Month should remind us to give thanks and encourages us to be active participants in our own history.
OED: Do you have a favorite soul food restaurant in Memphis? What is one of your preferred soul food dishes?
Jackson-Donald: There are so many great soul food restaurants in Memphis, so I have more than one favorite: I love the fried catfish at Soul Fish Café and their vegetables because they are cooked just like my mother’s. Then there is Stein’s on Lauderdale.
OED: Will you share a favorite quote of yours, attributable to a figure in Black History?
Jackson-Donald: “It’s important that we share our experiences with other people. Your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else. When you tell your story, you free yourself and give other people permission to acknowledge their own story.” -Iyanla Vanzant
OED: Is there a book, movie or author that you would recommend to others to learn more about Black History?
Jackson-Donald: I would recommend Repossessing Ernestine by Marsha Hunt. Hunt may not be well known, but this book fascinates me because it is set in Memphis and it chronicles Marsha Hunt’s research into her own Black History, eventually unearthing a family secret linked to her ethnicity. She learns how race played an integral part in her family history. It is great non-fiction reading for genealogists and history buffs.
OED: What is one experience that has shaped the person you are today?
Jackson-Donald: My upbringing is so similar to others in my age group. My father worked at the Memphis VA Hospital. In that job he met a lot of veterans who had come to the Memphis VA for treatment. I remember my father bringing some of those veterans home for dinner on holidays. Every holiday, it was a different veteran and all but one was Caucasian. My father not only taught us that racism and prejudice are wrong, but he also demonstrated to us by opening up our home to these men who otherwise would have just spent their holidays alone, in the hospital. There was no talk of Black vs White in my home, no exclusion or prejudice. I’m grateful to my father who taught me that all people should be valued and respected.