On May 17, 1882, Albert Jackson became the first black postman in Toronto, Canada. In 1858, the runaway slave fought through the Underground Railroad and through the racist southern lands to get to Canada. Jackson, his mother and sibling escaped with the help of William Still. Still helped the family flee to Philadelphia, then to Canada.
Once he arrived, Jackson was offered a job as the first black postman, only to be discriminated against by his co-workers. No one would train him and the local press called him an “obnoxious colored man” in the headlines. The Canadian postal service demoted him down to hall porter.
Jackson’s case became the center of a political battle in Toronto when the community of black voters rallied together for justice. Jackson’s story finally reached the desk of then Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald. With a political election close at hand, Macdonald fought on behalf of Jackson and he was re-instated as a mailman.
Jackson was with the the Canadian Postal Service for 36 years, becoming a pillar of the community and a respected landowner.
The struggle endured by Albert Jackson was found in the writings of Karolyn Smardz Frost’s I’ve Got A Home in Glory Land: A lost Tale of the Underground Railroad.
On July 8, 2013, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers honored Albert Jackson with a commemorative poster with his heroic journey and photo. Most recently, a roadway in Toronto was officially renamed Albert Jackson Lane.
Albert Jackson died on Jan. 14, 1918.