An Alabama home where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders planned the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches has been sold to a museum in Michigan and will be moved to a site near Detroit for preservation.
Dentist Sullivan Jackson and his wife, Richie Jean, owned the bungalow. It offered Dr. King and other civil rights activists a safe haven as they planned the three marches against the racist Jim Crow laws that denied Black people in the Deep South the opportunity to vote.
King was also inside the home when President Lyndon Johnson announced a bill that would become the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“There was a synergy going on in that house during those critical times,” Jawana Jackson, the only child of Dr. and Mrs. Jackson, said in a release shared with ESSENCE. “Whether that was when Uncle Martin was praying the morning of the Selma to Montgomery march or whether he was talking to President Johnson (by phone) in the little bedroom of that home, I always got a sense of energy and a sense of hope for the future.”
The Jackson House played an important role in the Civil Rights Movement. Jackson, the sole owner of the Jackson House, reached out to The Henry Ford about a year ago, asking if it would take over the preservation of the Jackson House and its legacy.
“The promise I made to my parents at their deaths to preserve our rich family legacy is now fulfilled,” Jackson said in a release shared with ESSENCE. “I am honored to partner with The Henry Ford to enhance the visitor experience with the addition of the Jackson House at Greenfield Village. This historic private residence will now be included among other nationally significant homes and artifacts which represent America’s commitment to justice, peace, and freedom for all.”
The Henry Ford Museum will acquire The Jackson House and its artifacts, including Dr. King’s neckties and pajamas and the chair in which he watched Johnson’s televised announcement about the Voting Rights Act.
The museum, named after Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company and an American businessman, is on 250 acres and includes Greenfield Village, which has over 80 antique structures.
The Jackson House will be dismantled this year and transported by truck more than 800 miles to Dearborn, Michigan, where it will be restored and eventually displayed in the village.
The Jackson House will join other important historical artifacts, including the workshop where Orville and Wilbur Wright invented their first airplane, the Montgomery bus on which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man in 1955 and the chair that Lincoln sat on at Ford’s Theatre in Washington when he was assassinated in 1865.
According to Patricia Mooradian, president and chief executive of The Henry Ford, visitors to Greenfield Village can go through the Jackson House. With more than 1.5 million yearly visitors, including tens of thousands of schoolchildren, The Henry Ford hopes to increase the Jackson House’s visibility on a national and international scale.
“We believe these authentic structures evoke powerful emotions and give insight into pivotal events that unfolded in American history,” said Mooradian. “The Henry Ford has spent nearly 95 years captivating audiences from around the globe with stories of American innovation, ingenuity and resourcefulness. Thanks to this collaboration with Jawana Jackson, we will be able to dedicate our expertise and resources to preserving and sharing the Jackson House and its important place in American history for generations.”