Calobe Jackson Jr. is a lifelong resident of Harrisburg whose roots run deep and whose knowledge of local and African-American history is virtually unsurpassed. His record of community service includes dozens of causes, organizations and accomplishments, all generously served with unwavering civility and optimism.
Born on Easter Sunday, 1930, Calobe’s childhood home was at 1002 N. 6th St., where his father, Calobe Jackson Sr. operated Jack’s Barber Shop, as it was known to lessen confusion with the adjacent Jackson House (owned by the equally prominent Mr. German Jackson). These landmarks today are being restored as part of the block-long revitalization project dubbed “Jackson Square.” A 1948 graduate of William Penn High School, young Jackson studied two years at Lincoln University until being drafted into the Army in 1951, serving with an all-black battalion as engineer/surveyor. Upon discharge, he began a four-decade career with the U. S. Postal Service, retiring in 1990.
Calobe’s extensive community service has included: the Harrisburg School Board; school district Board of Control; Trustee of Harrisburg University; Trustee of the Historical Society of Dauphin County; and the Harrisburg Planning Commission. He is a past Commander of the Ephraim Slaughter Post of the American Legion. Whenever a civic project needed a good authority on local African-American history, Calobe Jackson was invariably asked to volunteer. A current example is the Commonwealth Monument Project, comprising the first African-American memorial at the Capitol Complex.
Mr. Jackson has lectured or written on numerous scholarly topics including: the history of jazz in Central PA; the history of Harrisburg’s Lincoln Cemetery; the old Negro baseball leagues; and Harrisburg’s annual Civil War Days each June. In 2016, with HHA Preservation Advisor Jeb Stuart, Mr. Jackson created a black history trail in Midtown and Uptown Harrisburg for the YWCA’s Race Against Racism. In January, 2020, for Historic Harrisburg, Jackson and graduate intern Kristian Carter co-presented a program on the history of Harrisburg’s thriving 20th-century African-American business community, in the days of segregation and the “Green Book.”
Appropriate to the occasion, and in keeping with current CDC and PA Health Department requirements, we have chosen as the venue for this year’s tribute to Calobe Jackson Jr. and Harrisburg’s African-American Heritage, an outdoor setting at 1002 N. 6th Street, comprising the current Jackson Square revitalization project, with Calobe Jackson’s childhood residence serving as the backdrop.