Nannie Cox Jackson

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Nannie Cox Jackson

Nannie Cox Jackson (February 26, 1865 – September 19, 1953) was an African-American educator born in Charlottesville and educated in public schools in Charlottesville and Washington, D.C. She retired in 1939 after having taught in the Albemarle and Charlottesville school systems for many years. In 1969, Jackson-Via Elementary School, the city's first building built as a desegregated school, was named for both Black educator, Jackson, and a white educator, Betty Davis Via.[1]


Jackson was born as Nannie Cox on February 26, 1865, to Elizabeth Scott and the man who enslaved her, Dr. William Cox.[2] According to the oral tradition and historical documents, Elizabeth was the child of Thomas Jefferson Randolph and Nancy Colbert Scott, making Jackson the great-great-granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson.[3] A week after her birth, Union troops arrived in Charlottesville and liberated the remaining enslaved population, including Elizabeth.

As an adult, Nannie Cox married William E. Jackson, another formerly enslaved Charlottesville resident. The two would go on to have five children, whom they raised at 520 Pearl Street, on land they owned "free and clear". The couple lived in the home through William's death in 1922. The Pearl Street home was razed in 1939 for construction of Lane High School.[4]

Jackson received educational training in Washington, D.C. and in Charlottesville, attending the University of Virginia for training in Home Economics, which she told the school would be used to give Black women training to become maids, although she actually taught it to her students so they would be able to function independently in the growing economy.[5]

The first teaching jobs that Jackson held were in Albemarle County, likely at Piney Grove Graded School and Forest Graded School, where her husband was the principal between 1889 and 1895. The first official record of her teaching in the area is 1893. By 1915, she was teaching industrial work and domestic science at the Jefferson School[6]. She taught at the Jefferson School through the establishment of the high school, founding the first football team, which her son managed[7]

Jackson was incredibly active in the Charlottesville community outside of teaching, particularly in Vinegar Hill where the Jefferson School was located. One resident of the area recalled her owning around 40% of the property in the neighborhood, which she and her family members rented out as an additional source of income. Her estate was worth around one million dollars when she died.[8] The land that her family members inherited was later taken by the City of Charlottesville as part of the razing of Vinegar Hill, including the land on which the City Hall was constructed.

Nannie Cox Jackson Award at Jackson-Via School

"Nannie Cox Jackson was an African-American educator born in Charlottesville in 1864. She was educated in Charlottesville and Washington, DC and taught for 46 years.

Intelligent and dynamic, Jackson motivated and demanded the best from all students. She was a tireless worker who constantly planned newer and better programs to meet the needs of the times.

Jackson started a class in which students, both boys and girls, learned to cook and sew. She started the first hot lunch program in the city schools, contributing money from her own pocket. She served hot soup and biscuits for just a few pennies. While the students ate, she talked with them about being the best they could be. Jackson gave the athletic program a boost by organizing the first football team in the Charlottesville schools. She fed the team and the coaches after each game using cafeteria money and some of her own.

She was an outstanding community leader and devoted her life to service for her family and community. She fed the hungry and was found wherever families were in distress. She obtained many scholarships so that students could go to college and followed up with words of encouragement -- 'believe in yourself; you can do it.'

Jackson died in 1953 at the age of 88. The Charlottesville School Board honored Mrs. Jackson by naming Jackson-Via Elementary School for her and Betty Davis Via."[9]

External Links


  1. Memorabilia assembled and curated by Nancy Lambert, former Instructional Coordinator, Jackson-Via Elementary School, with the help of Ruth Kastenmayer.
  2. Web. Nannie Cox Jackson
  3. Web. Nancy Colbert Scott
  4. Web. [ Starr Hill 16 W. E. Jackson Family Home & Office]
  5. Web. Marion Elizabeth Carter
  6. Book. [ Albemarle and Charlottesville Teachers of African Americans 1867-1967]
  7. Book. [ Pride Overcomes Prejudice: A History of Charlottesville's African American School]
  8. Book. [ Urban Renewal and the End of Black Culture in Charlottesville Virginia]
  9. Nannie Cox Jackson Award, Jackson-Via Elementary School, May 2011.