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West Princeton Dental Clinic PC, owned by Dr. Adolphus Jackson, sits quietly tucked away on the west side of Birmingham. It is located on the same property where an Italian-owned grocery store once stood in the West Princeton community where Dr. Jackson was raised.

“I grew up when schools and businesses were still segregated in Birmingham but there were black owned businesses in Birmingham. At the time, Lomb Avenue, the street where my current office is located, separated the white and black communities. Schools integrated in the late 1960s, and I attended a formerly all-white school, West End High School. I was one of the first black drum majors and the first black senior class president at West End. Things were still changing at that time and I knew I wanted to attend a small, predominately black college.”

Dr. Jackson chose to continue his education at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he majored in chemistry. “When I was in elementary school, I remember people from UAB visiting us at school and explaining that there was a great shortage of black dentists,” Dr. Jackson recalled. “Even though I was just a little kid, it resonated with me, and I put it in my mind that I would be a dentist because I wanted to help meet the needs that existed in my community. With the support of my parents and ten siblings, this dream came true!”

After encouragement from friends who attended UAB, Dr. Jackson decided to apply and was interviewed for the dental program. “Dr. Klapper, one of my interviewers, told me all about the history of the dental school – what it was about and where it was headed. It was something I knew I wanted to be a part of, and it also meant being able to come back home to Birmingham.”

Dr. Jackson said that adjusting to dental student life at UAB was not easy. “Academically, dental school was difficult because everything moved at a fast pace. Fisk had a maximum of thirty students in a classroom, and as I matriculated through my chemistry major, by the time I was a senior there were no more than ten people total in a classroom. Going from ten to eighty students all learning together was quite intimidating. And of course, socially, it was challenging for me too. I hadn’t been in a predominately white environment for four years, so I had to get used to being a minority once again. My classmates were great, but I had to adjust to a new social environment.”

Even though many aspects of dental school were challenging for Adolphus, he and his peers always made sure to celebrate their successes accordingly. “Our class had some great parties after tests! I used to really enjoy those!” Dr. Jackson laughed.

After graduating from the UAB School of Dentistry in 1981, Dr. Jackson joined the United States Navy Dental Corps. “Dr. David Greer encouraged me to go into the Navy because he had been in the Navy, and it ended up being a very good choice for me. It gave me a new appreciation for my education, too. I worked alongside dentists who had graduated from various schools nationwide and I quickly realized that UAB’s School of Dentistry had a superior program to most other institutions. I felt very confident in my education and abilities.”

After being stationed first in Norfolk, Virginia and then in Meridian, Mississippi, Dr. Jackson left active service and returned to Birmingham to open the West End Dental Clinic. Like so many other dentists without previous business experience, the first few years of owning his own clinic were often challenging.

“I remember struggling,” admitted Dr. Jackson. “I was working hard to establish myself in the community where I grew up. Everyone was very supportive, and proud that I had returned but there was a steep learning curve in understanding how to run a business.”

Dr. Jackson certainly figured it out though. After practicing in Birmingham for more than 35 years, he remains beloved by his patients and the community. One of his favorite aspects of dentistry comes from having spent years treating, and getting to know his patients so well.

“As a dentist, I get to know these people I see very personally. It’s not an ‘in-and-out thing.’ I play a part in improving their smile, and self-esteem, and I’ve gained so many friends over the years,” said Adolphus.

Dr. Jackson has also become a mentor to many young people. He enjoys being able to give back, both to his local community and through mission work abroad. His example has influenced those close to him. He and his wife, Diann, have six children – one of whom decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and attend dental school.

Despite a long history of dedicated service to the West End community though, Dr. Jackson doesn’t intend to work forever. “I DO plan to retire!” he insisted. “Hopefully, very soon in fact. But I will always love this profession, and I get so encouraged to see dentists senior to me still practicing and loving what they do every day. You just don’t see that level of dedication in other professions like you do in dentistry.”

If you would like to nominate a UAB School of Dentistry alumnus to be featured in an upcoming Alumni Spotlight, please email Elizabeth Carlson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..