PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- “I was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and my family came out here between 1880 and 1885."
At the age of 80, Chaz Jackson remembers vividly what being Black in the Valley was like. “Blacks were not allowed to live north of Van Buren; so blacks lived on Monroe, Adams, Washington, Jefferson and Jackson streets.
Jackson’s mother was among some of the first students to experience segregation in schools. In the early 1900s, some of the states first schools like George Washington Carver High and Booker T. Washington Elementary School were established for just that. Though the schools are now gone, the sites remain important symbols of Black peoples’ struggle and areas of history.
Jackson’s most vivid memory of encountering racism came at a movie theater.
“The white people would be standing there, and when we walked up, they let us go right in," he recalled. "Well, I thought that was unique. But they would take us upstairs and putting us in the corner that was reserved for the coloreds. So, I had told my sister about that. I say, 'You know every time we go, they take us right upstairs.' She said, 'Chris, they won't let you sit downstairs. Because you're Black.' ... That's when I started learning about racism.”
Now his daughter is shattering racial, gender, and sex biases that exist on the big screen.
“We serve the underestimated, underrepresented, and underserved. What I do, is find talented people of all backgrounds,” Tiauna Jackson said.
Tiauna Jackson is the first Black woman to own 100% of her talent and literary agency called The Jackson Agency. The agency aims to create opportunities and increase representation in the entertainment industry for those who’ve been disenfranchised.
“What we wanted to do was create this actor, artist community that supports one another as we basically kick doors in Hollywood," Tiauna said.
After spending 21 years in Los Angeles, Tiauna back in Phoenix and sees the changes the area has experienced. “It’s been interesting to see that change and now that we have a Black police chief, but there’s still some dissension in the ranks,” she said.
Jackson also recognizes there’s still a long way to go. While a call for change is nothing new she is hopeful for the future generations. “Change is not easy but it does make me excited for the future because you are seeing in our youth that they are not having it and willing to fight the good fight.”
Part of that fight for the father-daughter duo is helping to preserve the past. They teach people about the history of the Buffalo Soldiers, the Black soldiers that served after the Civil War. In October, the city of Tucson made history as it broke ground on a tribute to the Buffalo Soldiers.
Chaz and Tiauna are looking to get support and funding to build a museum here in Phoenix dedicated to those men. They are hoping to raise $1.5 million in donations.
Donations can be made to PayPal at the Buffalo Soldiers website, Buffalosoldiersaz.com, or mailed to Buffalo Soldiers of America, P.O. Box 8242, Phoenix, Arizona 85066.