Bearcat standout Rev. Charles Jackson meets with former Coach Tom Crump at new BC arena
The new arena at Brookland-Cayce High School opens next week, but there is a lot of history with the retiring of the old gym.
Rev. Charles Jackson, pastor of Brookland Baptist Church in West Columbia, was a trailblazer in that facility.
Jackson, along with Michael Thompson, were the first African-American players to don a Bearcat basketball uniform in the building that sits in the shadow of the new one. The past and present came together this week.
Robert Wells, BC’s current basketball coach, and a member of Brookland Baptist, was setting up a tour of the new arena for Jackson last week, while Tom Crump was talking to BC Athletic Director Rusty Charpia. Crump who was Jackson’s coach, was requesting a tour. So Wells and Charpia arranged for Jackson and Crump to arrive at the same time, without telling either. The reunion was filled with emotion for both.
“Those were some days,” Jackson said Wednesday, when he came back and saw Crump. The Jackson-led Bearcats won the 1969-70 Region Championship.
“I remember our first practice,” said Crump, reminiscing. “I said I need a leader, and Charlie’s hand shot up.”
It was the year South Carolina schools were integrated. Jackson recollected that he was none too happy to be leaving Lakeview High School, a school he considered his. Jackson remembers there was a lot of racial tension and anticipated hostility with desegregation. But the leaders at Lakeview, including Coach Harold White, told him not to protest.
“I’m depending on you,” was the word Jackson said he got from Coach White. So Jackson gave it his best and it was to the benefit of the Bearcats.
Jackson said his game was not shooting, but passing the ball to the scorers, and he played tenacious defense. Crump agreed that those were Jackson’s strengths as a player, and he was the best at it.
“He put us on his shoulders and took us to the conference championship,” said Crump.
The feelings between player and coach are mutual. Jackson was vice-president of the student body and he graduated with honors.
“He’s a great coach,” said Jackson of Crump. “He took time with us. He cared about us and our grades. He was so impactful and it’s so special to see him, today.”
Jackson, who has been the pastor of the large and influential Brookland Baptist Church for four decades said he is grateful for the opportunity Crump gave him. Jackson and Thompson went on to be named to the All Region team and basketball is a legacy Jackson has passed down in his family. Jackson’s son Charles Jr. played at S.C. State, and his grandson, Trey, who plays at Blythewood High School, has accepted a basketball scholarship to Iowa State.
Jackson said his experience at BC set the course for his life. And as he toured the new arena, he said he wants the dreams to continue for the present generation.
“I’m so excited for BC,” Jackson said.