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Ty Allan Jackson and Sen. Adam Hinds together, with Jackson’s 2019 Black Excellence on the Hill Award (left) and Shirley Edgerton and Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier celebrate her 2019 Black Excellence Award in the historic Chamber of the House of Representatives.

Edgerton, Jackson Receive 'Black Excellence on the Hill' Award

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Two Pittsfield residents were honored with a 2019 "Black Excellence on the Hill" award during a State House ceremony on Monday, Feb. 4.

Ty Allan Jackson, local author, literacy advocate, publisher and motivational speaker, and Shirley Edgerton, founder and director of the Rites of Passage and Empowerment Program, director of Youth Alive and cultural proficiency coach for the Pittsfield Public Schools, were honored by the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus.

Jackson was nominated for this recognition by state Sen. Adam Hinds and Edgerton was nominated by state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier

The MBLLC celebrates Black History month and the leaders who make Massachusetts communities thrive annually.  The "Black Excellence on the Hill Award" is presented to local leaders, nominated by their state legislators, for their work in civic engagement, education, business and other notable fields. It is a celebration of black culture, excellence and achievement in the commonwealth.

"Ty has been a true leader in ensuring kids of color get to see themselves in children's books. His work has also been used to promote financial literacy in schools nationwide. He is an inspiration, and I am honored to call him my friend," Hinds said.

Jackson is the founder of Big Head Books, a literacy organization in Pittsfield that seeks to introduce children to the joys of reading. He travels to schools, youth organizations and various professional settings nationwide inspiring children and educating adults about the impacts of illiteracy. A two-time TedX presenter, he believes that literacy is the foundation for a successful life and promotes it with humor and enthusiasm.  

"It is easy to simply say thank you for recognition and accolades such as these. But in addition to this being an acknowledgement of my work, I hope it serves as a symbol for others to pursue their dreams and aspirations," Jackson said. “We need more fighters and advocates willing to do what it takes to make our local and global communities a better place to live. With that being said I am truly thankful and humbled. To be appreciated for the work my colleagues and I have done to better the lives of children is heartfelt and gratifying."

This is not Jackson's first recognition for his efforts as an author and literacy advocate.  In 2016 he received the "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Content of Character Award" from former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. His books have been featured on CNN, NBC Nightly News, The Steve Harvey Show, PBS and countless media outlets.

Jackson's first self-published book, "Danny Dollar Millionaire Extraordinaire: The Lemonade Escapade," is a fun and empowering story that teaches children about the value of saving, investing and entrepreneurship. It was adapted into a play and was also lauded by the largest African-American operated bank in the United States as a useful tool to teach inner city youth about finances. In response to the success of this book among children and educators, he co-founded an empowering financial literacy program called Danny Dollar Academy, which includes a four-week long financial curriculum for third- to fifth-graders. He also co-founded the Read Or Else movement, a program created to shine a light on illiteracy and how it impacts our country. With each purchase of a Read Or Else garment, a book is sent to a child in a homeless shelter.  

Since 1995, Edgerton has served as the director of Youth Alive. The Youth Alive team of alumni that Edgerton mentored now uses the arts as a vehicle to improve participants' self-esteem and teach a variety of life skills. She also serves as the cultural proficiency coach for the Pittsfield Public Schools, where she coordinates projects and facilitates cultural competency trainings for educators and students, as well as assists with recruitment.

Edgerton is the founder and director of the Rites of Passage and Empowerment Program (ROPE), which emphasizes and encourages holistic self-discovery for young women. For 21 years, she served as director of residential programs for the state Department of Developmental Services in Berkshire County. In addition to managing the state-operated residential program, this work included coordinating the summer youth employment program for six residential programs in western Massachusetts.

The founder of the Women of Color Giving Circle and co-founder of Lift Ev'ry Voice: Celebrating African American Culture and Heritage, Edgerton's volunteer service to the region also includes serving on MCLA’s Board of Trustees in 2010-2014 as well as on the steering committee for the Berkshire Priorities Literacy Project in 2011. In addition, she was a member of the board of directors for the Women's Fund of Western Massachusetts from 2005-2009.

"Shirley is the embodiment of educator and community leader.  She has worked for decades with the youth of our community bringing out the very best of them and launching them into adulthood with confidence, pride and sense of responsibility. Many of the youth she once mentored are now rising community leaders in their own right," Farley-Bouvier said. "And, Shirley has taken all she has learned about race relations and now shares it with the adults in the community through her cultural competence work in the schools and beyond. In this time when we are struggling to understand each other, Shirley is able to increase awareness, expand perspectives and facilitate conversations, all which bring this community closer to the ideal of having every one of us respected and valued. "

"I'm deeply moved and honored to receive such a prestigious recognition and I thank Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier for her continued support and commitment to ensure all of our precious youth have access and opportunity to become happy and self-assured individuals and productive citizens," said Edgerton. "I'm thankful for the shoulders of the strong and bodacious women on which I stand and who inspired and encouraged me to be the best I can; and to remember that life is about whom you have lifted up and who you have made better. It's about what you have given back. I rise daily and understand that getting the most of life isn't about how much you keep for yourself, but how much you pour into others.”

Established in 1973, the mission of the MBLLC is to identify, highlight and analyze issues and concerns affecting people of color in the commonwealth. The caucus seeks to define a sense of political awareness among its constituents and make the political and legislative process accountable and accessible for those who have been disenfranchised. It is chaired by state Rep. Carlos Gonzalez (D-Springfield) and led by Executive Director Lucas DeBarros.

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REAL ID Credential Won't Be Needed Until 2025

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is alerting the public the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended the REAL ID full enforcement date from May 3, 2023 to May 7, 2025.  

Beginning May 7, 2025, every air traveler 18 years of age and older will need a REAL ID compliant driver's license or identification card, or another TSA-acceptable form of identification, for domestic air travel and to enter certain federal facilities.  TSA publishes a list of its acceptable identification documents on its website:

These credentials can include an RMV-issued REAL ID driving license or ID, or a valid U.S. passport. The Registry is currently serving customers seeking a license renewal, or new license, the opportunity to make an appointment to get a REAL ID compliant license. 

Documents required for this transaction include two proofs of Massachusetts Residency, proof of a full Social Security Number (SSN), and proof of lawful presence. These required documents must be original or certified versions. The RMV recommends customers to check these documents early, as well as to order replacements before license/ID expiration.

"The Registry continues to assist any residents seeking a REAL ID credential even though the federal government has extended the full enforcement date until May 7, 2025," said Registrar Colleen Ogilvie. "While federal REAL ID travel requirements won't take effect for a few years, and customers with a valid U.S. Passport may never need a REAL ID, the RMV and our partners at AAA stand ready to accommodate and provide plenty of time for customers to take advantage of a REAL ID upgrade."

Currently Massachusetts is at 48 percent REAL ID adoption, out of approximately 6 million active credentials total. The other active credentials consist of around 450,000 legacy credentials and over 2.4 million standard / non-compliant credentials.

Customers are eligible to renew online up to one year in advance of the expiration date printed on their license or ID, and up to two years after the expiration date.

Prior to May 7, 2025, customers will not yet need a federally compliant REAL ID for the purposes of boarding domestic flights or entering certain federal buildings. The fee for renewing a non-commercial standard or REAL ID license is $50, while the fee for upgrading to a standard or REAL ID card is $25.

Massachusetts residents may go online for information about the REAL ID and about online renewal eligibility:

  • Visit, login to "myRMV" account, and find out if credentials are permitted to be renewed online.
  • Customers can visit to find detailed information on REAL ID, including a helpful checklist that conveniently outlines the documentation needed to secure a REAL credential.
  • Customers are highly encouraged to begin their transaction online by visiting, clicking on "Online Service Center," selecting "Apply for a REAL ID," and then following the prompts to verify their identity and start their transaction. Customers will be prompted to complete a summary document which should be presented along with required REAL ID documentation during their in-person visit. REAL ID credentials are mailed to customers within 7–10 days of a visit to RMV Service Center and/or AAA location.
  • Anyone who holds a valid U.S. passport or other federally compliant form of identification may never need an RMV-issued REAL ID.
  • Customers who already have a full-term REAL ID are eligible to renew online up to a year in advance of their expiration date.

Appointments can be scheduled by RMV customers at or by AAA members at

Document issuing agencies may be experiencing delays in fulfilling requests. Full details can be found at

For additional information and details on these and other RMV service offerings, please visit or

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