Jesse C. Jackson

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Jesse Jackson (1908 – 1983) was an African-American novelist.


Jackson was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1908. As the only African-American family on the west side of town, his family enjoyed a middle-class lifestyle until they lost their home in the 1913 flooding of the Scioto River, and were taken in by an elderly acquaintance in the poorer east side of town.[1]

Jackson was one of the first young adult novelists whose works focused on contemporary experiences of African-American children, often those experiencing life as a minority in a white community. Call Me Charley, published in 1945, dealt with an African-American teenager struggling for acceptance in an all-white school in the suburbs. Tessie, published in 1968, deals with a black "scholarship girl" at an exclusive private school in New York. Jackson died in North Carolina in 1983.

In Honey for a Child's Heart, a book on the role of literature in a family's life, Gladys M. Hunt writes:

"No one has yet sat down and devised a set of rules that magically produces a great story. The quality that we have talked about has to come from the quality inside the person writing the story. In 1945 Jesse Jackson wrote Call Me Charley, the story of the only black boy in a white school. Mr. Jackson did not write primarily to deliver a message on race relations. He simply wrote a book out of his own experience. It had the ring of reality, and twenty years later the book’s editor would hear a woman tell how she had read a book in the fifth grade that changed her life, her whole attitude about people. The book was Call Me Charley."[2]


Young adult fiction[edit]

  • Call Me Charley. Illus. Doris Spiegel. New York: Harper, 1945.
  • Anchor Man. Illus, Doris Spiegel. New York: Harper, 1945.
  • Room for Randy. Illus. Frank Nichols. New York: Friendship Press, 1957.
  • Charley Starts from Scratch. New York: Harper, 1958.
  • Tessie. Illus. Harold James. New York: Harper, 1968.
  • The Sickest Don't Always Die the Quickest. New York: Doubleday, 1971.
  • The Fourteenth Cadillac. New York: Doubleday, 1972.


  • (with Elaine Landau) Black in America. New York: Messner, 1973.
  • Make a Joyful Noise unto the Lord: The Life of Mahalia Jackson. New York: Crowell, 1974.


  1. ^ Peter D. Sieruta (1996). "Jesse Jackson (1908–1983)". In M. Daphne Kutzer (ed.). Writers of Multicultural Fiction for Young Adults: A Bio-critical Sourcebook. Greenwood Press. pp. 187–192. ISBN 978-0-313-29331-3.
  2. ^ Hunt, Gladys M. (2002). Honey for a Child's Heart. Zondervan. ISBN 0310242460. Retrieved 23 January 2015.