Shelby M. Jackson (November 20, 1903 - January 1972) was a Democratic superintendent of public education in Louisiana who served from 1948-1964. In the early 1960s, he tried in vain to block federally-authorized school desegregation. Jackson was posthumously honored in 1994, by the naming of the "Shelby M. Jackson Memorial Campus" of Louisiana Technical College in Ferriday in his native Concordia Parish.
A former educator, Jackson was elected four times as his state's school superintendent. In his last reelection in April 1960, he overwhelmed the first Republican ever to seek the Louisiana superintendency, Centenary College professor Donald Emerich. Jackson polled 86.7 percent of the two-party vote, to Emerich's 13.3 percent. Jackson became well-known politically through his tenure as superintendent. For sixteen years, nearly every child's report card in the state bore Jackson's stenciled signature.
Continuing his strong segregationist position, Jackson had on November 13, 1960, declared a school holiday in an attempt to thwart court-ordered school desegregation in New Orleans, where the first race mixing was implemented in Louisiana schools.
He entered the 1963 Democratic gubernatorial primary. He campaigned on an intraparty "ticket" with New Orleans attorney Harry R. Cabral (1926-1998), who was seeking the lieutenant governor's position.
Jackson finished fifth with 103,945 votes (11.5 percent).
Had he run for a fifth term as superintendent and not for governor, it has been speculated that a clear majority of his votes would have otherwise gone to the fourth-place candidate, former Governor Robert F. Kennon. Therefore, with more than half of Jackson's votes added to his total, Kennon, not fellow Democrat John Julian McKeithen, would have entered the party runoff primary with the Number 1 candidate, former New Orleans Mayor deLesseps Story Morrison, Sr. (1912-1964).
One may indeed argue that Jackson had little chance of being governor, but he inadvertently denied Kennon the likelihood of a second nonconsecutive term. Jackson endorsed the successful McKeithen in the runoff with Morrison. Cabral finished far behind in the lieutenant governor's race as well, with victory going to the conservative incumbent, Clarence C. "Taddy" Aycock (1915-1987) of Franklin in St. Mary Parish.
Dodd said that Jackson had tried to capitalize on the desegregation crisis: "Shelby Jackson was too dumb and schoolteacherish to use his great opportunities effectively. Too, my being on the [state education] board and gigging him quietly didn't help his cause much."
William J. "Bill" Dodd, Peapatch Politics, Baton Rouge: Claitor's Publishing, 1991