Title: Oral History Interview with Blyden Jackson, June 27, 1991. Interview L-0051.
Interviewer: Parker, Freddie L.
Interviewee: Jackson, Blyden
Abstract: Blyden Jackson grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, during the 1910s and 1920s. Jackson completed his bachelor's degree at Wilberforce University and attended one year of graduate school at Columbia University before returning to Louisville, where he worked as a teacher for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) from the early 1930s into the mid-1940s. In 1945, Jackson moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to accept a position teaching English at Fisk University. Having received a Rosenwald Fellowship with the aid of Charles S. Johnson, president of Fisk University, Jackson completed his doctoral degree at the University of Michigan in 1952. Two years later, Jackson left Fisk University to teach at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he remained for fifteen years. In 1969, he accepted a position at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As the first African American professor at UNC, Jackson also became the first African American professor at a traditionally white university in the Southeast. Jackson finished his academic career at UNC, also serving as the associate dean of the graduate school before retiring in 1983. In addition to tracing the trajectory of his academic career, Jackson also offers his commentary on his experiences as an African American graduate student at the predominantly white University of Michigan, his interactions with Langston Hughes from the 1930s through subsequent decades, and his thoughts on the lingering challenges of recruiting African American professors and graduate students.