Part two of a two-part series
“I believe that all monuments have their place; I also believe that the story they tell should be factual and not slanted in their true role in history. We as people should remember that not all monuments celebrate the good, many monuments tell a story that are painful to some; however all monuments should provoke thought and tell the truth, so we as people will remember!”
These are the words of John Jackson III, a landscape architect for over thirty-eight years, commenting on the movement to remove confederate statues. As the owner of one of only a few Black landscape architect firms he has deep insights into the development of monuments, parks, plazas, walkways, and historic monuments. He is part of a movement creating a public counter-narrative to monuments that honor the confederacy. He and his team at JPA Inc. are well versed in the design of large-scale planning, planting, themed developments, museums and cultural projects that bring African American history and aspirations to life.
He is being more than modest when he says “I believe that the work that we have done as it relates to African American culturally significant projects is one of our core competencies. We have worked on projects all over the United States and have won many honors and awards for our work.” JPA Inc. has worked on the Historic Campus Entry to Tougaloo College (a former Slave Plantation that is now an institution of higher learning) in Mississippi; I AM A MAN Plaza in Memphis, TN; the Harlem District Streetscape in Albany, GA; the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site in Alabama; Henry “Hank” Aaron Park in Mobile, AL; the Magic Johnson Sports Facility in Holly Springs, MS; and the site design for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta, GA.
It hasn’t been an easy journey. Jackson shares. “I started in Landscape Architecture, in 1983, there were very few African-American Landscape Architects in practice. I was the second African-American to graduate from the Landscape Architecture Program at Mississippi State University since the program began in 1964. As it relates to barriers, coming out of school, no one wanted to hire me, some clients did not want to hire us, many doors for certain types of projects were closed to us.” But he is encouraging and welcoming towards those who are new to the field or considering such a career path. “Do not let the lack of African-Americans in this field of Landscape Architecture deter you from becoming one. I believe that being a minority amongst a majority is a clear advantage, especially if you know what you are doing. In order to be noticed you must stand out, being an African-American in Landscape Architecture gives you that advantage.”
Landscape architect isn’t always the first career path that a person considers. But the work is influential and lasting. It’s an opportunity to tell the truth and shape the future for generations to come. Join us in saluting John Jackson III and the team at JPA Inc.
You can reach JPA Inc. at 901-207-5231.
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