[Scholar, activist, and Grammy-award winning writer Maurice
Jackson, along with his co-editor, Blair A. Ruble, have assembled a
new and original group of essays that examines jazz and its
Washington, DC history.] [https://portside.org/] 




 LaMont Jones 
 May 1, 2019
Diverse: Issues In Higher Education

	* [https://portside.org/node/20036/printable/print]

 _ Scholar, activist, and Grammy-award winning writer Maurice Jackson,
along with his co-editor, Blair A. Ruble, have assembled a new and
original group of essays that examines jazz and it's Washington, DC
history. _ 



_DC Jazz
Stories of Jazz Music in Washington, DC_
Maurice Jackson and Blair A. Ruble, Editors
Georgetown University Press
ISBN: 9781626165892

As a historian who happens to have an affinity for jazz, Dr. Maurice
Jackson of Georgetown University combines both in a book that explores
the America-born musical genre’s presence in Washington, D.C. and
its intersections with government, politics, race, religion and higher

Howard University and the University of the District of Columbia have
played key roles in jazz education and appreciation and today serve as
leading institutions in the study and performance of the art form.
Those stories and others are told in _DC Jazz: Stories of Jazz Music
in Washington, DC_, which Jackson co-edited with Dr. Blaire A. Ruble,
a distinguished fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for

The nation’s capital as a key location in the evolution of jazz has
largely been unknown, but not to those familiar with D.C. history,
says Jackson, an associate professor of history and African American

“It was a big thing here,” says Jackson. “There were venues and
clubs, and there was music in schools. D.C. had so much talent. Like
‘Buck’ Hill. The great Shirley Horne. So many others. But you’ve
got to go to New York to make it.”

That’s what some did, earning fame and fortune. Others returned or
simply stayed in D.C. Numerous people and places in the district were
key to creating the jazz story, including the Library of Congress and
Kennedy Center with concerts; Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun, sons of a
Turkish diplomat and co-founders of Atlantic Records who fell in love
with jazz and helped spread it around the world; Billie Holiday
singing the hauntingly metaphorical anti-lynching song “Strange
Fruit” at a club on U Street; and the ascent of native son Duke
Ellington as one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time.

The book’s origins go back about five years, when Jackson suggested
an issue on jazz in D.C. to _Washington History_, a scholarly journal
published by the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. The special
issue was published in spring 2014 and contained articles by Jackson
and Ruble.

Jackson invited Ruble to co-edit a comprehensive book on the topic,
and Georgetown University Press published _DC Jazz_ in 2018. The jazz
studies programs and jazz ensembles at Howard and UDC, as well as
other initiatives such as UDC’s Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives and
JAZZAlive events, illustrate the role of higher education in promoting
the study and appreciation of jazz.

“They add a lot to it,” he says. “They have strong programs and
events and bring in new students.” And, Jackson says, they are
contributing to the revival of jazz in a gentrified D.C. that has
transitioned from “chocolate city” to one that is increasingly

“There are new clubs opening,” says Jackson. “I think there’s
a resurgence of jazz here. I just hope there’s some Black people
around in D.C. to hear the resurgence.”

Although Jackson enjoys being a historian and scholar, the Newport
News, Va. native didn’t aspire to a career in the academy. He
dropped out of college after his freshman year and went to work in
jobs ranging from a shipyard rigger and longshoreman to construction
and community organizing around the world.

Jackson eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from
Antioch College. In his late 30s, the husband and father returned to
school, received master’s and Ph.D. degrees in history at Georgetown
in his 40s and transitioned to a career in the academy.

A historian of the Atlantic world in the 17th and 18th centuries,
Jackson has written numerous articles on that topic and on
African-American history and culture. He also wrote the book _Let
­This Voice Be Heard: Anthony Benezet, Father of Atlantic
Abolitionism_ in 2010 and coedited _African-Americans and the Haitian
Revolution_ with Dr. Jacqueline Bacon in 2008 and _Quakers and their
Allies in the Abolitionist Cause, 1754-1808_ with Sue Kozel in 2015.

“I try to write history that’s relevant to society,” says
Jackson, a past Wilson Center fellow who has lectured around the

He also has authored liner notes for two jazz recordings by Charlie
Haden and Hank Jones and a 2017 report for the D.C. government titled
“An Analysis: African American Employment, Population & Housing
Trends in Washington, D.C.” An inductee into the Washington, D.C.
Hall of Fame in 2009, he later served as the first chair of the DC
Commission on African American Affairs from 2013 to 2016.

Meanwhile, the storyteller in him lives. He’s writing another book,
_Halfway to Freedom: African Americans and the Struggle for Social
Progress in Washington, D.C._ It chronicles the struggles of Black
D.C. residents for dignity and equality from slavery through Jim Crow
and civil rights-era riots to the present realities of gentrification
and the lack of full voting rights for district residents.

_LaMont Jones Jr. can be reached at [log in to unmask] You
can follow him on Twitter @DrLaMontJones._

_This article appears in the May 2, 2019 edition of Diverse
It was updated to reflect that Jackson began studying for his advanced
degrees in his 30s and completed them in his 40s._

	* [https://portside.org/node/20036/printable/print]







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