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Job creation a key piece of Jackson's at-large bid

Talia Whyte | 8/26/2009, 6:46 a.m.
Herbert Kwaku Zulu Jackson founded the Greater Roxbury Workers Association and led grassroots efforts to force contractors to comply with laws for hiring women and people of color. His son, at-large City Council candidate Tito Jackson, says that watching his father’s passion for community organizing sparked his own interest in public service. Talia Whyte

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Tito Jackson (center) works out during the “Zumba with Tito” fitness event, held Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009, at Emmanuel College. Jackson says he has lost 20 pounds since getting on the campaign trail for an at-large seat on Boston’s City Council. (Talia Whyte photo)

Tito Jackson feels like he was destined to be a leader. He traces his path back to watching his father, the late community organizer Herbert Kwaku Zulu Jackson, lead grassroots efforts to force contractors to comply with laws for hiring women and people of color as the founder of the Greater Roxbury Workers Association.

The younger Jackson, 34, is now looking to take on the mantle of leadership as one of the 15 candidates vying for an at-large seat on Boston’s City Council.

“The family is so excited and proud of his campaign,” said his sister, Akeila Jackson, who’s been working the telephone banks on her brother’s behalf at his Dudley Square campaign headquarters.

The Dudley storefront, formerly the annex for the Nubian Notions record store, was chosen to give passersby the feel of the campaign’s transparency and grassroots outreach, according to the candidate.

“I am from this community, and I want people to be able to see who I am and that I understand their issues,” he said in between fielding phone calls about upcoming campaign events. “I came from a family that believes in giving back to the community and making sure people have opportunities.”

Jackson grew up in Grove Hall. He still lives in, and now owns, the home he was raised in on Schuyler Street. He first exhibited his community organizing skills while a student at the University of New Hampshire, starting the school’s first black student union, advocating for the admission of more non-athlete students of color and becoming just the second black student body president.

During a recent campaign event held at South Boston’s Carson Beach — a part of town that Jackson said he never even would have thought of visiting as a black child growing up in Dorchester — the candidate noted not only how much racial progress has been made in Southie over the years, but also the importance of showing his multiracial supporters “where we want to be” as a racially united Boston.

Such progressive ideals are promoted by an equally progressive campaign staff packed with women in positions of power, including newly minted campaign manager Stephanie J. Anderson.

Anderson took a leave of absence from her job as a public relations executive at Osram Sylvania Inc. She said that the gender imbalance was not intentional — it just so happened that the best people for the jobs available were women.

“We didn’t realize  we were mostly a female team until we were asked to fill out a survey from [the National Organization for Women], asking how many women were working on the campaign,” Anderson said with a laugh. “Well, we looked around the office and said that wasn’t going to be a tough question.”