100 Years of African-American Special Agents: Eric Jackson

Retired Special Agent Eric Jackson served for 21 years in the FBI before retiring as special agent in charge of the Dallas Field Office. He shared his thoughts on his career, the FBI, and the role of African Americans during events in November 2019 marking the 100-year anniversary of the first African-American special agent, James Wormley Jones.

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Going into the Academy, I was the only African-American agent candidate in my Academy class. It was difficult, because I felt alone many times. I felt that I was not included into some of the groups that have formed during that. So, it was a lonely experience. And coming out of the Academy, I went to the Tampa Field Office and I was one of the second African-American new agents that had been sent to Tampa, and we formed a lifelong friendship based on that.

But one of the things that happened that let me know that it was going to be okay, there was a senior agent, African American, who was in the office who never spoke to me when I saw him. And I would walk past him and never said a word to me. And then one day, about six months into that tour, this gentleman sat down and talked to me and introduced himself and his name was Jim Barrow.

Jim Barrow was one of the original agents that went to the Academy. And he sat down and talked to me. And he told me the reason he wanted to wait to talk to me was he wants to see what type of agent I was going to be, what type of person I was. And he sat down and told me his life story, what happened when Director Hoover chose him to go to the Academy as one of the first African Americans, and the life he led.

And that gave me pause to think that there are people who have gone through a lot prior to me and they survived and that I was going to survive. And until the day I left Tampa, Mr. Barrow was not only a great mentor, he was just a great person, a great example. And I appreciated the fact of how he introduced himself to me and not that he allowed himself to be a crutch to me. So, it was a great opportunity.

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