Guide to the James E. Jackson and Esther Cooper Jackson Photographs Collection, 1910-1995

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Guide to the James E. Jackson and Esther Cooper Jackson Photographs Collection, 1910-1995

1910-1995

James E. Jackson (1914-2007) and Esther Cooper Jackson (1917- ) are African-American communists and civil rights activists, best known for their role in founding and leading the Southern Negro Youth Congress (1937-1948). James Jackson was head of the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) Louisiana state organization in 1946, and was a Party organizer in the automobile industry in Detroit from 1947 to 1950. He then moved to New York, becoming the Southern Director for the Communist Party. In 1951 he was indicted under the Smith Act (charged with advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government), and became a fugitive until 1955. He later served as the CPUSA's Educational Director and International Affairs Secretary, retiring in 1991. Esther Cooper Jackson served as the Executive Secretary of the Southern Negro Youth Congress from 1942-1946 and co-founded and served as the managing editor from 1961-86 of Freedomways, the influential African-American political and cultural quarterly. The collection consists of ca. 1,350 items (mainly black and white photographs), the largest part of which documents or derives from the international travels of the Jacksons—primarily James Jackson's travels as a representative of the CPUSA from the1950s through the 1980s; also included are a small number of family photographs and images documenting political and organizational activities of the Jacksons from 1930s through the 1950s and some images from Freedomways, mostly documenting cultural events sponsored by the magazine. Individuals represented include CPUSA leaders and activists, as well as leaders of Communist nations.

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