Black History Month: The indomitable spirit of Rep. Sharon Jackson - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, September 22, 2019
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Black History Month: The indomitable spirit of Rep. Sharon Jackson

(3-minute read) THE LAWMAKER OVERCAME A HUGE CHALLENGE

African-American history was made in January when the first African-American Republican woman lawmaker was sworn in as a legislator in the Alaska House of Representatives.

Rep. Jackson has got style, that much is obvious. But she also has more grit and determination than most Alaskans. Maybe that comes from her six-year stint in the U.S. Army. Or maybe it’s her deep faith in God.

Few Alaskans know that in 2015, Jackson suffered a stroke and was hospitalized. The stroke affected her speech, and she had to retrain herself how to form words again. The stroke also took away her stamina for several months, requiring a lot of bed rest. For a couple of years, she needed plenty of naps and made few public commitments.

But this Army veteran was not giving up. She continued to work for Sen. Dan Sullivan as a constituent liaison with a focus on the needs of veterans. She started a diverse Republican women’s club in Anchorage. She ran for lieutenant governor. All this, while fighting to regain her full power of speaking.

Rep. Sharon Jackson

It wasn’t until after the November election that she had her chance again: Gov. Michael Dunleavy appointed her to fill the District 13 spot left vacant in Eagle River when Dunleavy tapped Nancy Dahlstrom to run Alaska’s Corrections Department.

Jackson got caught in between Democrats and Republicans at the beginning of session when Democrats refused to seat her, because she would have been a critical vote for a Republican Speaker. That matter was finally settled after Republicans caved in and allowed Democrat Neal Foster to become Speaker Pro Tem.

You’ll see Rep. Jackson on the floor of the House — speaking with the conviction of someone who has not only served her nation in uniform but one who has fought her way back to full health — if you watch House floor sessions on 360North.org. She is making history in the Alaska Legislature, representing one of the most conservative areas of the state.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • It matters not to me where Sharon Jackson’s ancestors come from any more than mine or any one else, but she sure is a patriot. Just wish we had more just like her in Alaska. Go Jackson, Vance and Wilson! And you too Suzanne Downing

    • ??

  • Representative Jackson is a firm voice for Conservatism in Alaska. And she will be a strong ally to our governor.

  • The True Republicans want Black History Month to be eliminated.

    • Really? Are you a true Democrat, Tim? Otherwise, why bring this up. Just trying to make trouble? Why not say something nice about Representative Jackson? Or is that too difficult for you to do?

  • I attended the last three hours of the Bettye Davis African American Summit at Clark Middle School on Saturday. Basically, I went there to see Walt Furnace and Cal Williams and neither disappointed. I also anticipated a chest-beating opportunity for some on the left and wasn’t disappointed there, either. Since I wasn’t there all day, most of what I saw in that regard came from Bill Wielechowski. Consider that there have only been ten African Americans in the entire history of the legislature and that three of those are current members, which should stand as an achievement in and of itself. Still, I sense that there’s a desire to minimize that due to two of those three being Republicans.

  • It is interesting to read what others say in the comments. I personally know Sharon Jackson and she is an amazing woman. She is a friend. Sometimes I read horrible, hurtful things about her and I am sure they are from people who don’t even know her. Sharon has overcome a lot in life and a ton over the last few years and has one of the most positive attitides of anyone I have ever met. Her faith powers her forward, always knowing that no matter what, “everything is going to be ok”. Yes, Sharon, everything will. Thank you Sharon for everything!

  • I spoke with her at the Mat Su Libertarians picnic. I complained that as a grandmother and caregiver for the disabled, I resent that they took the dividend from the children, disabled, and seniors. It amounts to a tax on people that no politician would ever consider taxing. Prior to them messing with the dividend I felt like I could loan money to the poor families , with the reassurance they could pay me back at dividend time. Sharon said she heard me and made me feel like she really did. They interfered with my personal bank of grandma ,and I’m angry. Sharon recognized what I was saying and Thanked me. I told her about how proud I was of the dividend program when we set it up. She was very thoughtful and trusts the people. I really liked her she is genuine.

  • Is it me, or does Alaska call forth a heartier spirit in the people that come here? A transplant from South East Texas myself, and now living in rural Alaska, the few African Americans I have come across here are supremely conservative, with strong faith in God Almighty and a clear sense of right and wrong. It’s as if these Alaskan blacks are ideologically separated from their contemporaries outside! But isn’t this true of all Alaskans? It takes a special kind of determination to make a go of it here, whether your Black, white, or whatever label your contemporaries want to wear! I say: Good for you!!! We’re all Alaskans, and Alaskans are who she represents!

  • A Sheila Jackson Lee she is NOT!

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