Mae Jackson, the first popularly elected African-American mayor of Waco, Texas, died suddenly on Friday at the age of 63 after being admitted to the hospital for chest pains and flu-like symptoms. Jackson has been credited for being a unifier of races and social classes in Waco, and for knowing and understanding the town’s community so well.
Over 1,800 citizens were present to pay their respects to Jackson at Tuesday’s funeral service. “Mae was a remarkable womanÉI learned very quickly that Mae was a very smart woman with unusual judgment, skill, and compassion,” former Councilman Bill Carden said, according to the Associated Press. Jackson had served on Waco’s City Council since 2000 until her successful run for Mayor in May 2004.
Active in the state’s Democratic Party, Jackson had worked for the National Council of Negro Women in the 1960s during the civil rights movement, the Associated Press reports. Later she earned her doctorate in social work and owned her own practice.
“She was a woman with a great heart and a great spirit,” said the former governor of Texas Ann Richards to the Waco Tribune-Herald, “and I thought she was a wonderful leader.”