It’s amazing the jewels you find when you least expect them. Last week while perusing the newspaper of my former hometown (Roanoke, Virginia), I came across the obituary of Jackie Carter. Some of you may have known her already, but for me it’s all new.
Mrs. Carter was not only an author and editor of children’s books, she also made an impact in racial diversity in learning materials for kids with companies such as Scholastic, Sesame Street, and Disney. But, when you read about her legacy, what is most fascinating (at least to me) isn’t want she accomplished in the writing world. It was three things. She continued to work and flourish as she battled lymphoma, advocated for the education of boys of color, and was buried in Roanoke.
With the latter I’m a little puzzled. It does not appear that Mrs. Carter or her family have lived in the area, but I could be wrong. At any rate, I felt a sense of honor in knowing that someone of her grace and stature has a final resting place in my hometown. So why is that so important?
Roanoke is a small city known as the Star City of the south. In fact, there’s a landmark and beautiful overlook that correlates with the name. Outside of sports, there are few African-Americans (born or lived there at some point) that are well-known. So when someone of color achieves and connects to the city, it is something to celebrate. For instance, Henrietta Lacks (source of HeLa cells used for development of vaccines and advancements in medicine).
While I never had a chance to meet Mrs. Carter, her legacy in writing and education is an inspiration. And I am proud to count her among the most notable African-Americans in Roanoke.
Photo: Roanoke Times