|School: Roosevelt||Graduation Year: 1947|
Year Inducted: 2020
Sport Played: Basketball
High School Honors: 2 Basketball Letters as a starter, 1st Team All-PIL as a Junior; 3rd Team as a Senior. Certificate of Merit; All-Star Player in Golden Ball Basketball Tournament.
Post High School Career: 4-year Basketball Letterman at University of Portland. Team won 20 plus games three years, reaching the NAIA Tournament each year. He was in the U of P 1,000-point club. Jackson played with the Panel Shake AAU basketball, the Harlem Globetrotters, the Montreal Coutu Huskies, and as player-coach with the Northern Oilers. He coached the Loyola University Warriors of Montreal to the Ottawa Valley-St. Lawrence Athletic Conference championship. He received a Certificate in Organization and Administration of a Boys’ Club from the University of Illinois; was Director of the Negro Community Centre in Montreal and the St. Marks Community Center in Roxbury, Mass. He worked more than 30 years as an investment adviser in the oil industry until his retirement.
Many consider Jackson Winters to be the Jackie Robinson of Portland amateur basketball. He was one of the first African Americans to make the Portland High School All-City basketball team, and the first African American to play basketball at the University of Portland. As a teenager, he played in the Golden Ball basketball tournament sponsored by the Kiwanis Club, which was affiliated with the Portland Parks and Recreation League. He was one of five players selected to the Golden Ball all-star team. Jackson also helped lead the Roosevelt Roughriders, one of two Portland teams, to the 1946 state tournament. James “Mush” Thorson recruited Jackson to play basketball at the University of Portland. His brother, Jim, played with Jackson on the Roosevelt team and followed him to the University of Portland.
Jackson’s basketball exploits were regularly covered by the two major Portland newspapers. It was headline news when Jackson helped the Pilots upset the University of Montana at the NAIA tournament in Kansas City — “Pilots Upset Montana, Jack Winters Tops Scoring for Portland.” In a 1950 newspaper article featuring Jackson and his brother Jim as “Portland U’s Brother Act,” the article notes: “Jackson started playing for Portland as a freshman and was Torson’s immediate choice for the starting center role in the 1947-1948 season.” The article goes on to state that Jackson “joined the Pilots after three successful years with Roosevelt high school in Portland…. Quiet and cool, the lanky center is the second highest scorer in the Portland point column with 173 tallies in 18 games or an average of almost 10 points per game.” The newspaper article also describes him as a force underneath the basket and references his strong rebounding skills.
Jackson’s quiet calm was evidenced on and off the court. During Jackson’s sophomore year, he helped the University of Portland win the NAIA district championship and the right to play in the NAIA National Tournament in Kansas City; however, Jackson was not allowed to stay with the team at the tournament because of segregation. The next season at the national tournament, Jackson and his brother, Jim, were the first African American basketball players to stay at a white-owned hotel in Kansas City. A bellman invited and encouraged Jackson and Jim to eat in the hotel dining room, and they became the first African Americans to dine in the restaurant.
Jackson was instrumental in helping to establish the University of Portland basketball team as a recognized and respected program both on and off the court. Although he was undersized as a center, Jackson played the post position all four years at the University of Portland. After his freshman season, Jackson helped lead the team to three 21-game winning seasons and, as a senior, was named captain of the team. The University of Portland recognizes and honors Jackson as a one-thousand point scorer. At the end of his college career, Jackson had scored 1,033 points making him a member of the University of Portland’s exclusive and elite 1,000 Point Club. He accomplished this feat without the benefit of a 24-second clock or a three-point line.
After leaving the University of Portland, Jackson played for Panel Shake, one of the best AAU basketball team in Oregon during the 1950s. Additionally, he played with the Portland Jewish Men’s basketball team that went to the national tournament in Baltimore. As an Oregon AAU all-star, Jackson was selected to play against the Harlem Globetrotters when the team visited Portland. He scored 22 points and led the AAU all-star team to victory over the Globetrotters. Based on his strong performance during the all-star game, Jackson was invited to play with the Globetrotters and, in 1952, he signed with the team. After playing with the Globetrotters, Jackson married his high school sweetheart Marilyn Whaley who graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1949. In her 71-year role as friend, wife, and mother, Marilyn brought clarity and vision to the experiences she and Jackson shared.