July 15, 2013 – Georgetown’s Maurice Jackson recently became the first chair of the District of Columbia Commission on African American Affairs, which will advise the mayor, city council and the public about the economic, educational and health needs of African-American communities in Washington, D.C.
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray appointed Jackson, a Georgetown history professor, top 18th- and 19-century scholar and longtime city advocate, along with 16 other members representing public and nonprofit sectors and volunteer organizations concerned with the city’s African-American community.
“The problems are enormous,” Jackson says. “But there are many of us at Georgetown contributing to the city through our areas of expertise.”
The professor’s appointment highlights Georgetown’s commitment to the city to help address some of its most pressing concerns.
“D.C. has long been a predominately African-American city, but the commission really came about after the 2010 U.S. Census showed [a population loss of 39,000 African Americans],” says Jackson, who has been a D.C. resident for more than three decades.
Jackson says the commission needs to explore what’s at the root of the population decrease and provide advice for addressing the educational inequality, affordable housing and health disparities facing the city’s African-American population.
The professor's research focuses on race, revolution, ideology and anti-slavery in the Atlantic region and the intellectual, political, social and cultural history of African-Americans and their relationship to the wider world. He also has taught courses on the history of Washington, D.C.
He is the author of articles and books, including Let This Voice be Heard: Anthony Benezet, Father of Atlantic Abolitionism (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009), and has co-edited African-Americans and the Haitian Revolution: Selected Essays and Historical Documents (Routledge Press, 2010).
Jackson has been a 2011-2012 fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a Smithsonian Fellow and a Kluge Fellow at the Library of Congress. The professor is currently at work on a book, Halfway to Freedom: A History of the African-American Peoples in Washington, D.C.
He also hopes to write a memoir about growing up in the South and his transition from industrial worker to activist to public intellectual and scholar.
Other members of the commission include:
- Jesse L. Bemley, computer scientist
- Dianne Dale, author, lecturer regarding Washington’s Anacostia community
- Charles Evans, consultant
- Patsy Fletcher, consultant re African-American historic preservation/community organizing
- John W. Franklin, Smithsonian
- Charles "Chuck" Hicks, Black history activist, librarian
- Absalom F. Jordan, Jr.,
- Clarence Lusane, political scientist, author, lecturer, American University
- Rev. Dr. Raymond Massenburg, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
- Ka'mal Ali McClarin, National Park Service, Frederick Douglass House
- Rev. Anthony J. Motley
- Kelly Elaine Navies, DC Public Library, African American Studies
- Brian Keith Roberts, Esq.
- Lydia Sermons, executive director, African American Experience Fund of the National Park Foundation
- Carlton Terry, former State Department, DC Government