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A Call for Life

Left image: seated photograph of Joseph H Jackson seated at his desk; right image: Certificate of Life Time Call
Seated portrait of Joseph H. Jackson, 1966. CHM, ICHi176417; Certificate of Life Time Call, 1958. CHM, ICHi176420

On December 29, 1958, Reverend Joseph Harrison Jackson received his official Certificate of Life Time Call as Olivet Baptist Church’s head pastor. Jackson was a renowned African American pastor and civil rights leader in the twentieth century, who left his mark through activism focused on education, housing, and both economic and political equality for Black Americans. Unlike some of his contemporaries, Jackson notably disagreed with direct action and nonviolent civil disobedience.

Born in Mississippi in 1900, Jackson moved to Chicago to further his graduate studies and pursue his career as a pastor and activist. In 1941, Jackson became the head pastor at the historic Olivet Baptist Church on Chicago’s South Side. Olivet was a staple of the Bronzeville community during the Great Migration, between 1916 and 1970, when masses of African Americans fled the South to escape violence and discrimination. The church provided education and housing resources for the many people who came to the North with few opportunities or connections. Jackson served as head pastor of Olivet for nearly fifty years.

Learn more about Jackson’s life, work, and occasional controversy in our Google Arts & Culture exhibit, Reverend Joseph H. Jackson.

Google Arts & Culture

Google Arts & Culture is an online platform that puts the treasures, stories, and knowledge of more than 2,000 cultural institutions from eighty countries at your fingertips. The Chicago History Museum’s portal includes stories from throughout the city’s history. Peruse the designs of Chicago-born couturier Mainbocher, learn about the work of civil rights leader Reverend J. H. Jackson, and so much more!  


Chicago History Museum Sharing Chicago Stories