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Oral history interview with Emory O. Jackson, 1971.

Creator: Jackson, Emory O.
Project: Black Journalists Oral History Collection.
(see all project interviews)
Phys. Desc. :Transcript: 68 pages Sound recording: 2 sound cassettes
Location: Columbia Center for Oral History
Full CLIO record >>

Biographical Note

Emory Overton Jackson (1908-1975), was born in Buena Vista, Georgia to Will Burt Jackson, a bricklayer, and Lovie Jones Jackson, and was one of seven children. The Jackson family relocated to Birmingham, Alabama in 1919 when he was eleven years old. He attended Industrial High School (later renamed Parker High), graduating in 1928 and attended Morehouse College where he served as student government president and the editor of the college's newspaper, the Maroon Tiger. Jackson graduated in 1932 with a triple major in English, economics, and education. Professionally, Jackson worked as a English teacher and basketball coach at Carter High School in Dothan, Alabama and Westfield High School in Birmingham, Alabama before joining the Birmingham World as a book reviewer in 1934. Jackson served in the Army during World War II. He was a voting rights advocate who used the Birmingham World to advance the cause of civil rights for African Americans during his forty year editorial leadership of the paper. At the paper, he challenged the discriminatory treatment of black veterans, Birmingham's discriminatory housing policy, and resistance to school desegregation within Alabama. He was the founder and first president of the Alabama State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a lifelong bachelor, and a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated.

Scope and Contents

In this interview with Henry G. La Brie III, Emory Overton Jackson discusses his education, career, and his view on the black press and its role in American society. Jackson discusses his early career as a teacher and his military service and recounts how his work in the print media while employed as an educator influenced his decision to leave the education field to pursue a full time career in the press. Jackson shares his views on the black press's ownership and his mission and commitment to the Birmingham's black community, highlighting those that he believes have exploited black culture and focus on entertainment and amusement versus those who were mission-oriented. Jackson also discusses changes in the black press since 1827, its challenges, and its future. He provides an assessment of the changing quality of writing found in the black press, noting that discrimination limited options and forced black scholars to publish research findings in the black press. Jackson identifies several black newspaper men who actively worked to uphold the mission, as he envisioned it, for members of the black press.


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