07 September 2007

James E. Jackson Passes Away

I just received news that civil rights pioneer and black revolutionary James E. Jackson passed away last weekend. James, along with his wife Esther, were shapers of the Southern Negro Youth Congress in the 1930s and 1940s. Later on, he was the editor of The Worker (after a period of being forced undergound by McCarthyist persecution), while Esther worked on Freedomways.

Just last year, there was a wonderful conference at NYU to discuss their legacy and celebrate the donation of their papers to the Tamiment Library. It was an inspiring event with James, Esther, Pete Seeger, Angela Davis, David Levering Lewis and many others in attendance. Not long after, I was lucky enough to interview Esther, particularly about her thoughts about Russia and her experiences in Stalingrad just after the war in late 1945. I also had a chance to read select letters, unpublished works and memorabilia in their papers at NYU. James's work throughout the post-war era was astounding in its crisp analysis and abiding solidarities. The collective contribution of this amazing couple to twentieth-century history will soon, I hope, be recognized.
My sympathy goes to Esther.