Harold Jackson’s footprint on WTOC
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Black History month may be over, but the impact made by Black people in this community is felt every day.
Harold Jackson not only documented change, he played a big part in creating it.
“I tried to be the mirror to other Savannians about what this side of the community was doing and how it was living,” said Harold Jackson.
Harold Jackson produced and hosted Focus ‘74 right here on WTOC-TV in Savannah.
Jackson says it all started with a phone call that changed his life.
“Mr. Bruce, Dwight Bruce called me because WW Law had approached him saying why don’t you give him a tv show, so I got invited to come over.”
Focus ‘73 hit the airways in February of 1974.
“The finger got pointed at me, ready to cue talent, fade in one, cue talent. Momentarily I was stunned, but I got it together and it has been, looking back, the launching pad for everything I’ve done since.”
The show aired for almost two years, focusing on topics of change, hope, and entertainment in the Black Community.
Guests on the show ranged from local and state leaders to Savannah civil rights attorneys and former Georgia State Representative Bobby Hill, who in a letter, told Jackson he was at his disposal and he could count on him.
Another guest included former Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson.
“That show was the first time that African Americans got a chance to see themselves on a show other than being reported for some negative thing, like a crime,” Johnson said.
Jackson also interviewed guests from outside the Black community including a former Georgia state senator, the late Wiley Anderson Wasden, Jr.
Jackson showed us a letter Senator Wasden wrote after being on the show asking to get in contact with a Savannah State Instruction that he was on the show with so he could speak at one of his classes. Forming connections and partnerships outside of WTOC.
“For 30 minutes we were able to every week see Harold as the anchor of that show. It was our show and we identified with it.”
But Harold didn’t do it for accolades and praise. He didn’t even do it for a paycheck.
He says he did the show for $25 a month to cover his car’s gas.
“I grew up in Savannah and I owed a lot to this community Savannah was at least in the African American community was a nourishing environment and it allowed us to be protected and I owed much to that community it was kind of like a payback in a sort of way”
A price we just can’t put a number on. His journey started long before landing at WTOC.
“W.W. Law, I think more than anyone else was responsible for me becoming the first Black reporter at the Savannah Morning News.”
A job Harold says was tough. He worked in a world of racial segregation.
Forced to walk into all white spaces and write articles that would live far past his time at the paper. But Harold didn’t last at the paper long, he left Savannah for a few years.
In 2023, Harold continues to share his love for journalism. Passing his knowledge down to future generations.
You can even find his name printed in stone at the Press Institute Hall of Fame at Savannah State.
“Looking at my career I would hope that they would get Life is a marathon, it’s not a race.”
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