Inspired by her parents and empowered by God, Lillie Benbow Jackson has blazed a trail of good works throughout South Los Angeles.
Her unselfish acts of kindness, most notably illustrated through the weekly food program at 88th Temple Church of God in Christ, led the Women’s Group of Greater Los Angeles County (WGGLA) to recognize Jackson as an “amazing unsung shero” in L.A.
WGGLA honored Jackson and 14 others during the group’s “Call for Boldness Celebration” on August 19. The event, which salutes the legacy of Bridget “Biddy” Mason, was held at the Biddy Mason Memorial Park in downtown Los Angeles.
Mason, a former slave, was a nurse, philanthropist and real estate entrepreneur who accumulated close to $300,000 that she shared with charities and the poor. She also opened a traveler’s center, operated an elementary school for Black children and donated land in 1872 to establish First African Methodist Episcopal Church, the oldest church founded by Blacks in L.A.
Jackson performed similar volunteer work to help the community. As the daughter of the late Bishop Bennie Robert Benbow, she assisted her parents with outreach projects to aid those less fortunate.
“We’ve always done community work,” recalled Jackson. “My mother and father were giving out bags of groceries in the 1960s before it really became popular. He took money out of his pocket and asked the saints to contribute. Those he helped through the food program later became members of the church and many are still here.”
Her father implemented 88th Temple’s food program and it continues today under Jackson’s direction, who added, “A young man, formerly incarcerated, assists me by taking his truck and collecting food from local grocers.” The donations are distributed to the scores of people, who line around the church every Friday to receive fresh vegetables and canned goods.
Throughout her adult life, Jackson has volunteered for several neighborhood projects. She served as a community liaison for the LAUSD Board of Education, participated on the steering committee for LAUSD’s mandatory busing plan, became the treasurer for the South Los Angeles Foster Parent Association and founded Lillie’s House of Hope for Men, a residential facility for recovering males affected by substance abuse.
Also, she maintains an active church agenda. An accomplished organist, she plays for 88th Temple COGIC where her son, Supt. Anthony Williams, serves as pastor, as well as for the Southern California First Jurisdiction Youth Choir. In addition, Jackson co-chairs the jurisdiction’s Youth Sunshine Band, serves as head chaplain of the Women’s Department Light District and is a missionary for the South West Light District.
Crediting “generational blessings” for her success, Jackson admitted, “I’ll never retire because I’m purpose-driven and if God sends you, you can make it. If people send you, they’ll send you back.
“The Bible says many are called but few are chosen. I believe I’m chosen for this work.”