Maurice Jackson On Esther Cooper Jackson
It is without hyperbole to suggest that Esther Cooper Jackson was one of the most important organizers, thinkers, writers in the history of world broadly, the Africana world specifically for over eight (8) decades [if start with SYNC]. Her intellectual contributions, her insight/foresight, her writing, her ability to organize organizers, her kindness, her love for and hope in Black people, her modeling of radical care for intentionally extended community and her family, her vision to see beyond the parameters of now - the moment - all are foundational to what Robin DG Kelley calls ‘freedom dreams’. As well as the clearest articulation of what Amilcar Cabral called for all revolutionaries to commit, that is ‘class-suicide’.
For Maurice Jackson [People’s World], “Esther Cooper Jackson, was the Soul of Black Folks, the Soul of Humanity – the Salt of the Earth. From her days at Washington’s historic Dunbar High School to Oberlin and to Fisk University, she fought for equality. From her co-founding of the Southern Negro Youth Congress, she was a warrior for justice. During the fascist-like McCarthy era, she stood as a woman of enormous courage, saying that she and Jack ‘devoted themselves [ourselves] to each other, to our daughters, and to the great cause of our times’ through thick and thin. Hers was a ‘life supreme,’ where throughout her century plus five years she emitted a love supreme, for humankind. Nothing could be finer.”
Those who have been fortunate to meet Esther Cooper Jackson, whether personally, politically, or indirectly through her legacy with Freedomways or related organizing work, must now, more than ever, intentionally ensure that generations to come meet her as well.
We all must listen to Esther Cooper Jackson’s instructions more closely now, developing an ‘ear’ to hear deeply, listen beyond the dominant narratives that distort the ability to develop a clear analysis of the relationship between the past and present, with a clear vision of the future.
Next, we present a recent conversation with Maurice Jackson where we reflect on the life of Esther Cooper Jackson, her thought and practice as well as her impact on his personal [and others’], intellectual development and organizing activities.
Maurice Jackson is an Associate Professor who teaches in the History and African American Studies Departments and is Affiliated Professor of Music (Jazz) at Georgetown University.
Before coming to academia, he worked as a longshoreman, shipyard rigger, construction worker and community organizer. He is author of a range of peer-reviewed articles and book chapters as well as Let This Voice Be Heard: Anthony Benezet, Father of Atlantic Abolitionism; co-editor of African Americans and The Haitian Revolution: Selected Essays and Historical Documents; Quakers and their Allies in the Abolitionist Cause, 1754-1808; and DC Jazz: Stories of Jazz Music in Washington, DC.
He has lectured in France, Turkey, Italy, Puerto Rico, Qatar, served on Georgetown University Slavery Working Group, and is a 2009 inductee into the Washington, D.C. Hall of Fame.
He is completing work on Halfway to Freedom: The Struggles and Strivings of African American in Washington, DC to be published by Duke University Press.
His next projects will be We Knew No Other Way: The Many-Sided Struggle for Freedom and Black Radicalism: A Very Short Introduction.
Our show was produced today in solidarity with the native/indigenous, African, and Afro-descended communities at Standing Rock; Venezuela; Cooperation Jackson in Jackson, Mississippi; Brazil; the Avalon Village in Detroit; Colombia; Kenya; Palestine; South Africa; Ghana, Ayiti; and other places who are fighting for the protection of our land for the benefit of all people.
Listen intently. Think deeply. Act accordingly. Enjoy the program!