But there are few institutions more dear to Jackson, a former Franklin County Municipal Court judge and member of the Ohio Attorney General's Office, than her alma mater, Wittenberg University. In combination with her respect for the great American for which the day is named, Jackson said it was an easy decision to accept an invitation to speak at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Convocation at 11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 15 at Wittenberg's Weaver Chapel.
"There was no way I was going to miss out on this invitation," said Jackson, who started her career as an assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Section and has an impressive track record of working for the advancement of civil and human rights. "In so many ways, I am coming home. I was honored to be asked to speak at Wittenberg on such a special occasion."
The message Jackson hopes to convey to what is expected to be an overflow audience attending the ninth Wittenberg Series event of the 2000-01 school year is a positive, upbeat one about the value of public service. She said her presentation is entitled "Everybody can be great because everybody can serve," a message true to the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. himself.
"I have a personal philosophy, and that is that you can't give back, you can only pay forward," said Jackson, who earned a bachelor of arts degree in history from Wittenberg in 1975 and a law degree from The National Law Center, George Washington University in 1978. "I hope to weave a theme of Dr. King's message with our own experiences.
"Perhaps I will say something that will motivate someone in the audience to give a little bit more, especially students."
Jackson, who has been a member of the Wittenberg University Board of Directors since 1989, likes to say she "grew up" at Wittenberg. The Virginia native worked in the Wittenberg public relations office, and she was a member of the Mortar Board and an officer of Concerned Black Students. Her college experiences offered great perspective, and the emphasis on service is something that still impresses her today.
"Almost 30 years after I entered Wittenberg, I would say there is more need, not less," Jackson said. "People can make a difference."
Jackson is the latest in a long line of accomplished speakers to appear at Wittenberg for the annual Commemorative Convocation, which became part of the Wittenberg Series in 1991. Last year, renowned poet and author Nikki Giovanni was the keynote speaker.