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Murray E. Jackson Papers

Identifier: LP001806

Scope and Content

The Murray E. Jackson papers record Jackson's activities as an educator, a civic leader, and a poet. His files represent a life committed to higher education, as well as his work as a community leader and poet in Detroit during a turbulent time for African Americans. His engagement with the city, and the respect and accolades from his peers and colleagues, are evident in these files, which center around the late 1960s to late 1990s.

The materials in this collection are separated into three series: Education and teaching, Personal, poetry, and civic engagement, and Photographs and oversized materials.

Materials in the Education and teaching series relate to his career at the three colleges where he served in teaching and administrative roles: Wayne State University, Wayne County Community College, and the University of Michigan. This includes documentation related to his travel to China, Zimbabwe, Germany, and England, which served as learning experiences for educational presentations and events. The series also holds material related to his position on the Wayne State Board of Governors, which he served on from 1980-2001, and has accounts of a racially motivated altercation that happened in Detroit as well as misconducts of a fraternity at the same address.

The second series, Personal, poetry, and civic engagements documents Jackson’s experiences outside of his career as an educator. This series showcases the leadership roles that he held and civic organizations he was a part of, including The Mariners Inn, a shelter and treatment center for the homeless, The Detroit Council for the Arts, and the Michigan Council for the Humanities. Material includes correspondence from congressmen and civic leaders including Jerome Cavanaugh, William Milliken, and John Conyers Jr., as well as personal correspondence and biographical statements written by or about Jackson.

This series also documents Jackson's career as an author in the form of drafts of poems, fliers for readings and events, and newspaper clippings reviewing his work. There are numerous letters from friends, colleagues, and former students describing what his poetry meant to them and their impressions of his work. Also included is a draft of Jackson’s final publication, “Bobweaving Detroit: Running to Catch the Past.”

The third series, Photographs and oversized materials, consists of photographs of Jackson at professional events and university functions, and recognition of his work in the form of certificates and awards. All oversized materials are listed in the Collection Inventory below.

Series 1: Education and Teaching, 1947-2000 Series 2: Personal, poetry, and civic engagement, 1926-2003 Series 3: Photographs and oversized materials, 1959-1999


  • 1925-2003
  • Majority of material found within 1967 - 2003


Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.


Collection is open for research.


Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials.


Murray Jackson (1926-2002) was an educator, civic leader, and poet. He earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees at Wayne State University in the humanities, and his love for visual art, music, literature, poetry, and drama was a constant thread throughout his life. His career interests dealt with the politics of urban higher education, notably in his founding of Wayne County Community College in 1967. He also achieved success as a poet, publishing three books of poetry that explored his childhood and experiences in the city of Detroit.

Murray Earl Jackson was born in Philadelphia on December 21, 1926. He moved with his family to Detroit in 1929, the city that served as his inspiration for community action and literary reflection until his death in 2002. Following his WWII service in the US Navy, Jackson gave up a chance to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers in order to attend Wayne State University on the GI Bill.

After obtaining his bachelor's and master's degrees in teaching humanities, 1954 and 1956 respectively, he began his lifelong career as an educator and champion for urban education. He served as a faculty member and administrator at Wayne State university from 1955 to 1968. During this time he was also appointed Coordinator of Special Projects for the University of Michigan Opportunity Awards Program from 1964-1965. He served as the founding president of Wayne County Community College from 1967-1970.

In 1971 he joined the faculty of the Center for the Study of Higher Education as Associate Professor at the University of Michigan. In 1980 he was elected to the Wayne State University Board of Governors, where he served until 2001. Jackson retired from the University of Michigan in 1991.

Jackson was an active community activist and respected poet. Among many other titles, his community involvement included serving as Chairman for the First District Democratic Party of Michigan (1965-1969), the President of the American Lung Association of Southeastern Michigan (1974-1976), and the Executive Director of the Detroit Council of the Arts. Jackson published numerous academic papers, as well as three books of poetry including Woodland Sketches: Scenes from Childhood (1990, X-Press Productions), Watermelon Rinds and Cherry Pits (1991, Broadside Press), and Bobweaving Detroit (2004, Wayne State University Press).

Until his death in 2002, Jackson lived in Detroit with Kathryne V. Lindberg, who he married in 1994. His first wife, Dauris Jackson, a distinguished educator, writer, and public servant, died in 1979. He was survived by his daughter Llenda Jackson-Leslie, son M. David Jackson, MD, and three grandsons, Christopher, Eric, and Gregory.

More information on Jackson can be found in Bobweaving Detroit: The Selected Poems of Murray Jackson.


4.5 Linear Feet (1 MB, 1 SB, 1 OS)


The Murray E. Jackson papers document the life and work of an educator, administrator, civic leader, and poet, who lived from 1926-2002. A bulk of the materials range between the late 1960s and late 1990s. Included in this collection are records documenting his involvement at Wayne State University, Wayne County Community College, the University of Michigan, various community organizations, his career as a poet, as well as personal files.


Arranged in 3 series – Series 1 (Box 1-2), Series 2 (Box 2) and Series 3 (Box 2-3). Folders are arranged alphabetically.


This collection was donated to the Walter P. Reuther Library on February 20, 2003.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Colleen Cirocco and Shae Rafferty on March 15, 2019.
Guide to the Murray E. Jackson Papers
Processed by Colleen Cirocco and Shae Rafferty
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA