Friday, April 11, 2014

West Oakland icon, Jackson Royster, joins ancestors

Academy of da Corner professors Marvin X, Jackson Royster and Lumukonda

I should have known something was wrong when a brother on the bus said, "Have you heard about Jackson?" I replied, "What about Jackson?" and he just looked at me so I went to a seat. The next day while at my Academy of da Corner, 14 and Broadway, downtown Oakland, another brother informed me Jackson had passed away two weeks ago and was to be cremated. No memorial service is planned. Of course this is unacceptable to me so we will give the brother a memorial service, after all, Jackson was a fixture in West Oakland. Few people knew he was a graphic artist since he never stressed the point, rather, when you ran into him or he ran into you, he was always have some archival information to give you, a copy of the Oakland Tribune regarding an event long ago, usually during the heyday of West Oakland's glory. I was utterly shocked when Jackson presented me with an article about my father's florist shop. The article, published in the 1950s, told how my dad had taken a competitor to court for peddling flowers too close to Dad's florist shop on Seventh Street.

Jackson was forever coming up with materials he'd found, usually by researching the Oakland Public library history section. Yes, Jackson was walking, talking history. I'd gone to his mother's funeral to discover his mother was a poet and his aunt a scholar and principal at McClymonds, the School of Champions, as Jackson would always remind us. He loved telling the glorious history of McClymonds, the athletes who went there, Bill Russel, Jim Hadnot, Jim Hines, Charles Aikins, Beamon, the Pointer brothers, John Handy, and so many others. I didn't go to Mack but I did attend Lowell Jr. High, the feeder school to Mack. At Lowell I was on the basketball team with Joe Ellis, who later played for the SF Warriors. Jackson knew all this history and much, much more. He will be missed. Thank you, Jackson, for coming this way!

We suspect his archives went into the trash. Since we never saw his collection, we only have an idea how much material he had on the history of Oakland, especially West Oakland. Academy of da Corner and the Community Archives Project lost this time. One of my academy students, Aries Jordan, suggested some time ago that we should go kick in Jackson's door just to see how he was living, what his needs were, did he have any food, was his house clean, etc.? We never made it to his house.

A memorial service will be held soon, probably at the Senior Center where he loved to eat. 
--Marvin X
Academy of da Corner,
Community Archives Project

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