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Mitchell S. Jackson to Speak at Convocation

April 29, 2024

Mitchell S. JacksonPulitzer Prize-winning writer Mitchell S. Jackson, the John O. Whiteman Dean’s Distinguished Professor at Arizona State University, will be the featured speaker during the 2024 School of Education and Social Policy Convocation ceremony at Northwestern University.

The celebration is Monday, June 10, 2 to 4 p.m. at the Ryan Fieldhouse, 2333 Campus Drive on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. A reception for graduates and their families follows the ceremony.

Jackson, the author of the award-winning books The Residue Years and the memoir Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family, is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, a columnist for Esquire, and a highly sought after speaker. A formerly incarcerated person, Jackson is also a social justice advocate who, as part of his outreach, visits prisons and youth facilities in the United States and abroad.

“Mitch Jackson is one of the great social commentators of the decade,” said School of Education and Social Policy Dean Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy, the Carlos Montezuma Professor. “Whether it’s his treatment in the role of race in the killing of Armaud Arbery or how Chicago’s Bo Jackson navigated being a two-sport athlete, his insightful critique and important illuminations of challenges and the opportunities in front of us are remarkable.”

In addition to Jackson’s keynote, Convocation features the annual Alumni Leadership Award, given to an undergraduate and graduate student for exceptional leadership in the School of Education and Social Policy, at Northwestern, and beyond. Graduating seniors Kyla Neely (social policy) and Yaurie Hwang (learning sciences) are the 2024 Convocation co-chairs. 

About Jackson 

Jackson won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing for a “deeply affecting account of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery that combined vivid writing, thorough reporting and personal experience to shed light on systemic racism in America” according to the judges. The piece, called Twelve Minutes and a Life” and published in Runner’s World, also won a National Magazine Award in Feature Writing.

His debut novel The Residue Years won a Whiting Award and The Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence. His essay collection Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family was named a best book of 2019 by fifteen publications. Jackson is also the author of Fly: The Big Book of Basketball Fashion, described by The New York Times, as “A coffee-table book that elevates the subject to the same decorative status as a Dior or Gucci monograph.”

Jackson’s other honors include fellowships, grants, and awards from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, Creative Capital, the Cullman Center of the NYPL, the Lannan Foundation, PEN, and TED.

His writing has been featured on the cover of the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, Time, Esquire, and Men’s Health, as well as in The New Yorker, Harpers, Harper’s Bazaar, The Paris Review, The Guardian, and elsewhere.

As a public speaker, Jackson has delivered lectures and keynote addresses both in the US and abroad, including the TED Conference, the Ubud (Bali) Writers and Readers Festival, the Sydney Writers’ Festival; the Hegra Conference of Nobel Laureates and Friends; as well as at Yale University, Brown University, Cornell University, Columbia University, Oberlin College, UCLA, and other esteemed institutions.  


Photo: John Ricard