Color naming

Splash of Color: Community Honors Coach Northside with Murals on City Pool

Portrait artist Evelyn Fisher volunteered to create a four-by-four round portrait of Jackson that hung on the front of the Earl Jackson Splash Pad and pool building. (Port City Daily/Shea Carver)

WILMINGTON — “If you grew up in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Wilmington, you knew Earl Jackson Sr.,” Jeannet Age said. “This man has impacted the lives of many, especially young people.”

Age is Jackson’s former stepdaughter; his son, Andrew Earl Jackson, carries the family name. The nickname carries a lot of weight, especially on the north side of downtown Wilmington.

In 1992, the city branded the Northside pool the “Earl Jackson Swimming Complex”, today known as the Earl Jackson Splash Pad and Pool. It was one of many places Jackson worked with local youth.

Brandon Hickman – known as “Bigg B,” program director for Cumulus – said he remembers neighborhood boys lining up at the pool, towels in hand, during the summer at 9 a.m. morning while waiting for “Daddy Jack”.

“We already knew that if you didn’t arrive by 9:10, you left,” he said.

Jackson had many nicknames, but “Daddy Jack” endeared him to children and teenagers.

“No matter what they called him, when they called him he would respond and encourage them to become productive citizens,” Reverend Kojo Nantambu said.

“He included everyone,” added Terry Jackson. “He would go around town and find the best players.”

The men were speaking to a crowd of 60 who gathered at the Northside pool on May 22 to honor Jackson again – this time in a wall dedication.

Jackson lived in the neighborhood, three blocks from the Boys and Girls Club, where he worked for 47 years as director of health and physical education, playroom supervisor and director of programs. He founded a corps of drums and trained students in various sports.

“He knew what your gift was,” Hickman, who grew up on the Northside, said at the ceremony. “Sports and athletics was his thing, but one day I walked into his gym and he was like, ‘You know what? You’re pretty good on the drums.’ That’s when I knew music would be my thing, but he encouraged me without doubting myself.

One of the Earl Jackson Splash Pad and Pool murals was created by Janna Robertson, Jessie Robertson and kids from DREAMS of Wilmington. It shows Jackson holding a basketball in a gymnasium, addressing a group of children gathered around him.

This is an actual representation of one of the photos Robertson put together drawing inspiration from the Jackson family, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Northside pool. Some images had water damage, others were faded, but the artist said the sentiment in each was crystal clear.

“This man left a legacy,” Robertson said. “He was like the neighborhood dad.”

DREAMS students created the blue and green background, while Janna and Jessie Roberston drew the characters, and handprints are from Jackson’s family flanking each side of the room. (Port City Daily/Shea Carver)

Age said many of the athletes Jackson coached went on to successful college and professional careers: Trot Nixon, Lonnie Smith, Ray Charles Leonard.

“During Earl’s retirement celebration, Michael Jordan sent a lovely letter and an autographed Rolex watch,” Age said. “Reverend Meadowlark Lemon [who played with the Harlem Globetrotters] was one of his best friends and paid tribute to Earl at his house party.

Jackson died in 1998 at Lower Cape Fear Hospice at the age of 73.

Robertson became friends with the Jackson family over a year ago when they approached her about doing a mural for the Northside Pool. Portrait artist Evelyn Fisher volunteered to create a four-by-four round photo of Jackson that hangs on the front of the building just below the name.

To represent the coach’s morale and selflessness, Robertton decided that involving the youngsters in the project would be a memorial that had come full circle. More than 100 kids — also from NSEA Swim and the Jackson family — lent a hand in the paint job.

DREAMS students created the blue and green backdrop for the gymnasium room, which includes handprints of Jackson’s family flanking either side.

A third mural, located at the rear of the bathhouse facing the pool, showcases the bright, vivid colors of an underwater landscape. Colorful fish and sea life were created by the children of NSEA Swim.

The murals are mounted on aluminum panels and can be removed if adjustments or repairs are needed on the structure.

It also allowed Robertson to easily plan the canvas to ensure that all the children could contribute to the art.

“I could put him in my car and drop him off at a class at DREAMS for the day,” she said.

This isn’t the first time Robertson has seen his art displayed publicly in the city, even on the Northside. She created the “Forest of Dreams” at the DREAMS Center for Arts Education and the “Black Lives Do Matter” installation in Jervay Park.

She just launched her first LLC, Community Art Collaborative, on Thursday with plans to bring more public art to the forefront of community engagement.

Robertson donated six murals, including the three at the Earl Jackson Pool, to the city. In total, they are worth $12,000. Robertton paid for all supplies from grants. The city funded their installation at the Northside Pool.

“The city is committed to investing in Wilmington’s Northside,” spokeswoman Jennifer Dandron told the Port City Daily earlier this year. “The murals allow us to continue that investment by helping to beautify the Northside and celebrate the legacy of Northside community members and organizations.”

Robertson said the other three murals will be at the Hemenway Community Center, home to Voyage, a nonprofit organization dedicated to “connecting young people to pathways to success.” In fact, kids from Voyage and students from GLOW helped design the artwork, which will be unveiled this summer.

The appeal of the murals, Robertson said, in addition to bringing color and life to other demure and dull structures, unites many hands and young minds toward a worthy goal.

“The magic in art is that children feel they or they did it,” Robertson said.

It’s a sentiment that matches what many praise of Jackson’s modeled behavior. He was named “Father of the Year” by former Governor Jim Martin in 1989 and had a day, March 24, proclaimed by New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chairman Robert G. Greer in 1995 .

“He worked hard to develop the minds and bodies of young people in hopes that their dreams would come true,” Age said. “They esteemed him as if he were a ‘pearl’.”

The Earl Jackson Splash Pad and Pool is located at 750 Bess St. and open Monday through Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $1 for 1-17 year olds and $3 for 18 year olds. and up to.

The bright and vivid colors of an underwater landscape, featuring colorful fish and sea life, was created by the children of NSEA Swim. (Port City Daily/Shea Carver)

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