Monday, April 2, 2012

HISTORIAN JOHN GLOVER JACKSON (1907-1993) by RUNOKO RASHIDI


Today is the anniversary of the birth of historian John G. Jackson--one of my major mentors and a powerful early influence. John Glover Jackson, one of our greatest cultural historians, was born on April 1, 1907 in Aiken, South Carolina. Jokingly, he would sometimes tell me: "Runoko, I was born on April Fool's Day and I've been a fool ever since!" At the age of fifteen he moved to Harlem, New York, where he entered Stuyvesant High School. During his student days Jackson began to engage in in-depth historical research and was soon writing short essays about African-American history and culture. These essays were so impressive that in 1925, while still a high school student, Jackson was invited to write articles for the Honorable Marcus Garvey's newspaper, the Negro World.
In addition to his growing activities as a writer, in 1930 Jackson became a lecturer at both the Ingersoll Forum and the Harlem Unitarian Church. Among his teachers and associates during this formative phase of his life were Hubert Henry Harrison (whom Jackson would later refer to as the "Black Socrates"), Arthur Alfonso Schomburg (founder of the Schomburg Library in New York), Joel Augustus Rogers (one of the greatest historians and journalists of the twentieth century) and Dr. Willis Nathaniel Huggins (a brilliant historian and ardent Pan-Africanist).
In 1932 young Jackson became the Associate Director of the Blyden Society. Named after the outstanding race leader of the nineteenth century, Edward Wilmot Blyden, the Blyden Society performed an outstanding role as an African-American support group for Ethiopia after Italy's brutal 1935 African invasion. Among the very early and, as Jackson was quick to point out, most talented students to come out of the Blyden Society is the now highly respected and almost venerated Dr. John Henrik Clarke.
Although these were difficult years for John Jackson, with race-prejudice, poverty and illness his frequent companions, he continued to produce well-researched, informative and controversial works. In 1934 Jackson coauthored with Dr. Huggins A Guide to the Study of African History. In 1937, also with Dr. Huggins, he wrote Introduction to African Civilizations. In 1939 he authored Ethiopia and the Origin of Civilization, and Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth in 1941. His insightful literary contributions to The Truthseeker Magazine continued regularly from 1930 until 1955.
Beginning in the 1970s John Glover Jackson produced several major books. These works include Man, God, and Civilization in 1972, Introduction to African Civilizations in 1974, Christianity Before Christ in 1985, and Ages of Gold and Silver in 1990. Professor Jackson, one of the most remarkable scholars of our time, taught and lectured at colleges and universities throughout the United States and resided during his last years in Southside Chicago, Illinois. John Glover Jackson joined the ancestors October 13, 1993.
John Glover Jackson was one of the major influences in my life, and I was blessed to know him personally. I met Professor Jackson for the first time in 1982 while working at Compton College. After our initial encounter, we were to spend many hours on the phone and in person dissecting history, scholarship and politics. The twilight years of his life were spent in a nursing home in Southside Chicago. He remains one of my great heroes.

SOURCES:
Introduction To African Civilizations, by John G. Jackson
Ages Of Gold And Silver, by John G. Jackson

HISTORIAN JOHN GLOVER JACKSON (1907-1993)
by RUNOKO RASHIDI

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