Sherry Crenshaw Jackson
Sherry Crenshaw Jackson was born in 1949 to James and Emily Crenshaw. A 1967 graduate of Washington High School Sherry graduated from Marquette College in Marquette, Michigan in 1969. While employed as a monitor at Longfellow Junior High School, she and her brother decided to take the exam to become firefighters in 1979.
While Sherry had passed all of the Civil Service exam, psychological test, and agility test, she was 25 sit-ups short of the 50 required. The Mayor was also unavailable for her interview, and Sherry was denied the firefighter job. She sued the City of Massillon in US District Court for discrimination in hiring procedures and employment. The case was settled out of court with a Consent Decree that established an employment goal of 9.8 percent of Blacks in Police and Fire Departments, with 10 years to reach that goal.
In 1984, Sherry retook the agility test and passed. Jackson is seen here lifting a 50-pound air fan up a 50-foot ladder and carrying an 80lb hose during that agility test. She was sworn in on March 19, 1984. After 131 years of existence, the Massillon Fire Department hired its first female and second Black firefighter.
She endured harassment throughout the years, which led to several discrimination lawsuits throughout the years. She served at Station 1 from 1984 to 1992, when an injury ended her firefighting career.
Sherry is an active member of St. James AME Zion Church. She has a daughter, Cinetha (seen here) and a son, Brandon. Sherry participated as a panelist during the Massillon Museum’s Sunday Community Dinner. She was also interviewed in 2022 as part of the Missing History project. Video is being edited and will be available soon on our website.
(Photographs: 1984 gift of Sherry Jackson, 2022 portrait courtesy photographer Amber N. Ford, newspaper photograph from "The Reporter," March 17-24, 1984)