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Jolie A. Jackson-Willett

humanitarian, political activist, and lawyer, grew up in the Bronx, New York. Her father, Odell Barksdale, was an electrician and a postal worker. Her mother, Elizabeth Watts Barksdale, was a retail buyer and a homemaker. Barksdale's parents, although not financially well-off, ensured that the Barksdale children were enriched culturally and socially by exposing them to a variety of experiences ranging from cooking, sewing, and piano lessons to attending political lectures and demonstrations. Early inspiration came from African American leaders, including Mary McLeod Bethune and Ralph Bunche, whom her parents took her to see when they came to New York City. Young Edith Barksdale even met First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and was ultimately inspired by Judge Edith Sampson, the first black woman elected to preside over municipal court.

Barksdale graduated from Hunter College of the City University of New York in 1959 She ...