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Spelman Celebrates the Life and Legacy of Paul Keith Jackson

August 2018

Paul Keith Jackson

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio on Sept. 23, 1951
Departed on Aug. 8, 2018 and resided in Decatur, Georgia

Celebration of Life: St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church
1970 LaVista Road, Atlanta, GA, 30329.
Friday August 24, 2018 1-2 p.m. A reception will follow.

Spelman Professor Paul JacksonPaul Keith Jackson, Ph.D., served as a professor at Spelman College and helped to design the College's signature African Diaspora and the World Program. He was born in the Walnut Hills neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio on September 23, 1951, attended Cincinnati Public Schools, and graduated from Withrow High School. He then attended Dartmouth College where he received a B.A. in Theater. He went on to pursue graduate studies, receiving an M.A. in Playwriting from the University of Cincinnati and a Ph.D. in Theater from the University of Wisconsin. He also earned a certificate of management from the Wharton School of Business and a certificate of dramaturgy from the University of Amsterdam.

Taking Theater to New Heights

Jackson entered a career in theater, and over the years was involved in many aspects of the profession, including teaching, scholarship, directing and administration. He began his career teaching middle school students at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. In 1986, he moved to Atlanta to teach at Spelman College. He remained at Spelman for 12 years and moved through the ranks from assistant professor to full professor.

In 1998, he began a position at Miami University of Ohio and remained there until his retirement in January 2017. In addition to his responsibilities as a professor in the Department of Theatre, he served as department chair and director of graduate studies. He taught world theatre history, directing, and seminars on topics such as August Wilson, African American theatre, and gender, race, class, and sexuality in theater.

Returning to Spelman After Retirement

After retiring, Jackson was a part-time instructor at Spelman College, teaching a course called “African Diaspora and the World,” a first-year seminar he had helped to design almost three decades earlier. At both Spelman and Miami, Paul directed numerous theatre productions, many of plays written by notable African-American playwrights including Adrienne Kennedy, Pearl Cleage, and Lorraine Hansberry.

During his long career, he received awards and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Ford Foundation, and The Coca Cola Foundation among others.
Paul was actively involved in professional theater organizations. For almost three decades, he was a member of the Association of Theatre in Higher Education and the Black Theatre Association. He attended and presented at conferences of these organizations of these organizations almost every year and was actively engaged with numerous focus groups concerned with race and sexuality. He also participated frequently in the Black Theatre Network and served as a reviewer for the National Association of Schools of Theatre.

Jackson's scholarship revolved around African-American playwrights, and particularly African-American women playwrights. He published several articles in academic journals and edited collections. He was a nationally recognized expert on the playwright Adrienne Kennedy. He was the founding editor and a member of the executive editorial board of the online journal Continuum, The Journal of African Diaspora Drama, Theatre and Performance.

He is survived by a large theater community in Oxford and Cincinnati, Ohio, Atlanta, and throughout the country. For Jackson, theater was more of a calling than a vocation, and he touched the lives of dozens of students, colleagues, and professional associates at Spelman College, Miami University, the Black Theatre Association, and beyond. Those who knew him continually praise his mentorship abilities and his incredible generosity of intellect and spirit.

If some people create a ripple as they live their lives, Paul created a big wave of love, understanding, and knowledge. Known for his warmth, honesty, humor, and big heart, he will truly be missed by all those who were blessed to have known him. Ashe, Paul!

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