Dr. Thelma Jackson named Lacey's 'Ken Balsley Historian of the Year'


Dr. Thelma Jackson has been recognized as Lacey's 'Ken Balsley Historian of the Year' as a significant part of the city's history month this year.

Jackson has been recognized for her extensive research on Black people in Thurston County, culminating in a book titled "Blacks and Thurston County, Washington 1950 to 1974: A Community Album."

According to Museum Curator Erin Quinn Valcho, Jackson took on this project because there has been a significant gap in the historical documentation of black people in the area. She chose the 1950 to 1975 period because of the increase in immigration and the ability to conduct oral histories with people still living today.

"It's a delight to share this evening as you honor Ken Balsley, a long-time friend of mine," shared Jackson during her acceptance speech.

"We're living in a time where history is so vitally important, and we find that there are so many versions of the same thing that happened over time, and it is a matter of who did the writing and through whose eyes and what narrative emerges as that written history," she added.

Jackson's public service to the Lacey community is extensive; she served on the North Thurston Public School Board for more than 20 years. She also served as the president of the Washington State School Directors Association.

Dedicating herself to public service, Jackson has worked tirelessly to improve educational opportunities for students and families in Lacey. She is one of the founding members of the city's Commission on Equity, on which she works to ensure the city's commitment to diversity and equity is fulfilled.

The annual award was been renamed the "Ken Balsley Historian of the Year Award" as it was Balsley's idea more than 20 years ago to honor people making local history. The late Balsley was awarded the Spirit of Lacey Award during the same meeting on May 4.


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