Sometimes to make things better, you have to stir things up.

And there may be no one in Tampa Bay's history who was better at that than Kate Jackson.

Her motto: "agitate and educate."

Why do they call it the Kate Jackson Community Center?

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce the 31st mayor of the City of Tampa, the Honorable Kate Jackso---- wait a minute!

This amazing woman, Kate Jackson, was never mayor of this city! It's not because she couldn't do the job. It's because she wasn't allowed to do it.

Her dad, John Jackson, laid out the city's streets -- even naming one of them in Downtown Tampa after himself. He became one of Tampa's earliest mayors.

But Rodney Kite-Powell, curator of history at the Tampa Bay History Center, says despite the fact that Kate Jackson was, "really one of the most incredible women in Tampa history," it was the late 1800's.

Women were banned from voting and elected office. Kate Jackson could never be chosen as mayor.

"If she was born a man, a male, she would have been mayor herself," Kite-Powell said.

Well, that didn't stop Kate Jackson.

"She definitely used her pioneer roots and the fact that her family had a little bit of money to kind of help influence what people decided," Kite-Powell said. "Although she didn't vote, she would not be denied."

Children today laugh and learn in Anderson Park, which shares space with theKate Jackson Community Center in South Tampa's Hyde Park neighborhood.

Thedesign of the center for kids is based on Kate Jackson's original family home in Hyde Park.

"She was an incredible activist for neighborhoods, for children particularly, for playgrounds and recreation areas," Kite-Powell said. "Which is why it's so appropriate for the Kate Jackson [Communty Center] to be named for her."

And archive of information about Jackson is kept by Sister Lillian Schneider at Academy of the Holy Names, the school Kate Jackson helped bring to Tampa in 1881.

It's now Florida's oldest all-girls high school, still dedicated to educating the next generation of female leaders in Tampa Bay.

These days,Academy of the Holy Names also has classes for both girls and boys, running from kindergarten up through eighth grade.

All of those kids are planning a special celebration in January. It'll be a big 157th birthday party for their founder, Kate Jackson.

Read or Share this story: http://on.wtsp.com/1goL2IX