Making WAVES For Black History Month: EJ Jackson

Author: Pat Prescott

Ellsworth (EJ) Jackson, philanthropist extraordinaire, was born in Cleveland, Ohio on May 23, 1950.  As a teenager he relocated to Los Angeles, California where he attended Manual Arts High School.  EJ was a sturdy youth who enjoyed and excelled in the sport of football.  As captain of the “All Star” football team, he was named “All City” middle linebacker in 1969.  After graduation from high school, he attended several colleges including Los Angeles City College, New Mexico State College and Long Beach State College where he continued to display his football talents on the field.

After college days, EJ began working as a private investigator and it was at that time he noticed many people in the inner city had difficulty obtaining limousine service, particularly South Central Los Angeles, Watts, and Compton.  This young entrepreneur established his niche-affordable limousine service for residents living in these underserved communities.  In 1978, with the assistance of his mother, EJ purchased his first “Jackson Limousine”.  As time passed, EJ continued to build his business and added more limousines to his fleet.  His drive to provide quality service was instilled in all his drivers and staff.

EJ’s sense of service went beyond his limousine endeavor.  His eyes were opened with the needs of his patrons as he served them.  He began to do his part and beyond, by giving away turkeys before Thanksgiving one year.  This blessing to the community grew annually.  After 34 years, the turkey dinner giveaway had become as large as the man’s heart who initiated it.  EJ Jackson and the EJ Jackson Foundation would feed more than 10,000 families at these giveaways.  Mr. Jacksons generosity was extended to the homeless, the many schools in the communities in the Los Angeles and surrounding counties and to the many workers he employed.

Mr. EJ Jackson’s Foundation’s mission was to feed as many hungry families, senior citizens, handicapped individuals, and veterans throughout the years, as possible.  He was truly the epitome of generosity and his imprint on Los Angeles and many other communities, will never be erased. EJ Jackson died of a heart attack in November of 2016, just days before the Thanksgiving event.

EJ’s business partner Lyn Tavi and his long-time friend Jesus Garber joined us in the studio to share memories of EJ. Jesus says they met when he was 12 and EJ was a 17 year old student at Manual Arts High. The two spent almost 50 years as friends. Lyn was just getting out of high school and EJ was looking for a receptionist when they met.  He hired Lyn, took her under his wing and taught her the business. She would later become his business partner.  Jesus was working for Motown Records when EJ started his limo company. Jesus asked EJ to do a job for Motown and after that, Motown used EJ exclusively. EJ also spent some time managing the late singer Vesta Williams.

You could argue that his desire to give to others had a lot to do with the success of his business.  Lyn remembers when EJ left to go on the road with Vesta. She didn’t think she was ready yet but his trust in her helped give her the confidence that she needed. They started with two cars and today Jackson limousine has 10 SUV’s, 15 Town Cars, 5 buses and 3 vans and they continue to grow.  At one time they were doing the Grammys, The Emmys, the BET Awards and Lou Rawls’ Parade of Stars but EJ wasn’t blinded by star power.  What mattered to him most was the community. In addition to his famous Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner Giveaway, he recently purchased a refrigerated Foundation truck to deliver fresh food and drinks to the homeless people living underneath the freeway overpasses. We talked about some of the god times we had with EJ over the past few years, trying to drum up support and donations for the Turkey giveaway.

Jesus thinks EJ would not want to be remembered by continuing his limousine business at the high standards he set and keeping his efforts going to help those who are in need. Lyn agrees and says she will do everything in her power to keep his dreams alive.

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