With a crowd of well-wishers in attendance, the Savannah City Council paid tribute to Immediate Past Mayor Edna Branch Jackson at the beginning of its regular Council Meeting on December 8, 2016. The ceremony culminated with the placing of her official portrait in City Hall among other former Mayors of Savannah.
Before the unveiling of the official portrait, each member of Council made complimentary comments as they recalled her achievements and their relationship with Jackson who is the only African American female to serve as Mayor of Savannah. Savannah Alderwoman Estella Shabazz highlighted the historical significance of the event when she noted that for generations to come young African American females will see Mayor Jackson’s portrait in City Hall and be inspired by her accomplishments.
During her remarks, Jackson thanked the members of the current Council for their kind remarks, but quickly pivoted to recognize the work of the Aldermen who served with her on City Council when she said “it was never about the Me, but always about the We.” She asked each person who served on City Council during her tenure as Mayor to stand and be recognized.
She thanked the former City Manager and her staff for having the foresight to prepare a booklet documenting many of the major capital projects and Savannah’s unprecedented economic growth during her four years as Mayor. During her tenure, she and the other members of City Council who served with her moved Savannah from 145th place on the list of the Nation’s Best Places for Business and Careers to 78th.
Mayor Jackson served as a member of City Council since 2000. She has also served on the Board of Directors of the National League of Cities, and is former President of the National League of Cities Women in Municipal Government. She was First Vice President of the Georgia Municipal Association and Chaired the GMA Legislative Policy Council.
Mayor Jackson grew up in Savannah and graduated from Alfred E. Beach High School. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Savannah State University and her masters from a joint degree program at Armstrong State and Savannah State. She served as an administrator at Savannah State for approximately 30 years.
Mayor Jackson has received numerous citations and awards for her professional and civic activities including: Georgia’s 100 Most Influential Leaders 2015; Georgia Trend’s 2013, 2014, & 2105 Most Influential Georgians; Savannah State University 2014 Award of Excellence for Leadership and the 2012 Richard R. Wright Award; Savannah Technical College Tribute to Community STARs Award 2013; Emancipation Day Leadership Award 2012; Bennett College Outstanding Woman in Civil Rights; Savannah Civil Rights Museum Unsung Heroes Award; Tom Joyner Hardest Working Community Advocate Award; NAACP Freedom Award; Delta Sigma Theta Alfreta Adams Community Service Award; Alpha Kappa Alpha Mozella Collier Volunteer Service Award and the Omega Psi Phi Citizen of the Year Award.