In Memoriam: Charles "Action" Jackson

Published on: August 8th, 2021

906 Action Jackson [Photo by Ryan Hodgson-Rigsbee]

Action Jackson [Photo by Ryan Hodgson-Rigsbee]
Action Jackson [Photo by Ryan Hodgson-Rigsbee]

Charles "Action" Jackson has become an ancestor at the age of 59. Action was a beloved long-time WWOZ show host best known for his work on Takin' It To The Streets, WWOZ's multi-platform program celebrating New Orleans' social aid & pleasure clubs, second lines, Black Masking Indians of Mardi Gras, Baby Dolls, and brass band traditions. 

Action also hosted the late night blues show from Thursday night to Friday morning on WWOZ for several years, first from 3-6am and then from 12-3am. In the summer of 2020, he moved to host the Thursday afternoon blues show from 2-4pm each week. WWOZ listeners recognized Action from his always enthusiastic greeting, “It’s ya boy!” and everyone in the second line and masking communities knew Action.

Charles M. Jackson, Jr. was born January 1, 1962, and raised in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans. Action attended Francis T. Nicholls High School and went on to serve in the Louisiana National Guard as a fire support sergeant from 1978-1987. He also worked as a sheriff’s deputy, and as a limousine driver. Action began DJing in the late 1980s and, around the same time, connected with Spy Boy Timothy Washington of the 9th Ward Hunters. Action joined the 9th Ward Hunters as a Flag Boy under Big Chief Rudy, and masked with the gang for approximately three years. The 9th Ward Hunters reignited the Black masking tradition downtown in the 1970s.

A few years after that, Action began working with DJ Slab 1 from Q93 to share information about where the second line was each weekend. In late 2004, Action was asked to serve as King of the Big Nine Second Line Parade. He brought his brother, DJ Ro, also with Q93, in to serve as King alongside him. It was the first time in Big Nine’s history that there were two Kings in one year. In 2005, Action evacuated to Jackson, Mississippi but was back in New Orleans in time for the big second line collaboration between all of the social aid and pleasure clubs declaring that they were home. And in 2006, Action and DJ Ro again served as double Kings of Big Nine. 

In 2011, Action served as co-Grand Marshall for the Oshun parade alongside Nancy Parker. In 2012, Action served as King of Revolution and brought in his son, Charles Jackson III, as one of his dukes. 

Also in 2011, Action joined forces with WWOZ and began Takin’ It To The Streets, posting the weekly parade route sheets and interview podcasts on the website. Takin’ It To The Streets quickly grew to become the most-visited section of WWOZ’s website after the homepage. Action sat down for interviews with members of the social aid and pleasure club community each week to find out who was stepping out, what they would be wearing, the route, the King and Queen for the year, and more. After its initial successes, Takin’ It To The Streets grew to include photo and video coverage of New Orleans’ second line, Black Masking Indian, brass band, and Baby Doll cultures. In 2018, Takin' It To The Streets was honored with an award from the Press Club of New Orleans and in 2020, Takin' It To The Streets was recognized by the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters with a Prestige Award. 

One of Action's final projects was contributing to the Historic New Orleans Collection's Dancing in the Streets: Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs of New Orleans exhibit and book. In addition to serving as a consultant on the exhibit, he loaned a drum from his grandfather, Andrew Jefferson, who played with Olympia Brass Band. He also contributed a moving epilogue to the exhibition’s companion book of the same title, a summary of the year New Orleans’s social aid and pleasure club parades were silenced by COVID-19 safety protocols.

During the covid-19 pandemic, Action was a vocal proponent of keeping the cultural community safe and healthy after losing his friend, Ronald W. Lewis, to the virus early on. One of his taglines during the pandemic was "Just because you're at home wearing a mask doesn't mean you can't shake that ass!" Action conducted remote phone interviews throughout the first year of the pandemic with each of the social and pleasure clubs and a handful of Black Masking Indians. He was also involved with the Krewe of Red Beans' "Feed the Culture Bearers" initiative. Action's work in 2020 and early 2021 was a major part of keeping the community informed and connected as the streets remained empty and funerals were small. 

He died August 8, 2021 after a lengthy battle with cancer. Action will be greatly missed by all at WWOZ and within the cultural communities in New Orleans. He is survived by his loving family. His funeral is planned for Thursday, August 19 at Professional Funeral Services (1449 N. Claiborne Ave.), with a visitation at 3pm and service at 4pm. WWOZ will be airing a tribute program to Action during his former radio time slot on Thursday, August 19, from 2-4pm CT. It will air again on Saturday, August 21 from 10am-12pm CT and also be available on WWOZ's 2-week archive after it airs. 

At this link, browse the interviews Action Jackson conducted for Takin' It To The Streets. Below, see the many photos captured of Action over the years, in the studio, at Jazz Fest, in the streets, and more:

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RIP Brother. You are loved and will be missed!

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