James Sidney Jackson

July 30, 1944September 1, 2020

James Sidney Jackson passed away at home on September 1, 2020, with his wife, Toni, and daughters, Ariana and Kendra, by his side. Born in 1944 in Detroit and raised in Inkster, James was the first in his family to go to college, earning an undergraduate degree at Michigan State University, a Master’s degree at University of Toledo and his PhD in Psychology from Wayne State University. He was the Daniel Katz Distinguished University Professor of Psychology and Research Professor, Research Center for Group Dynamics both at the University of Michigan, where he spent his entire professional career. As the founding director of the Program for Research on Black Americans (PRBA), Dr. Jackson is internationally recognized for his innovative research on the influence of race on the health of African Americans, including the groundbreaking National Survey of Black Americans (NSBA) and National Survey of American Life (NSAL) which are considered the most extensive social, economic, and mental and physical health surveys of the US Black population across the lifespan. These have provided a foundational framework for understanding racial and ethnic disparities in physical and mental health across the lifespan and elevated the value of applied work in academic fields. Throughout the course of his career, Dr. Jackson served as mentor, advocate, and sponsor for generations of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty of color. He received many awards and was a fellow in many professional societies. In 2014, he was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the prestigious National Science Board.

James is survived by his wife Toni, daughters Ariana and Kendra; sons-in-law Alex Berger and Tyson Timmer; and his greatest joy – three grandchildren, Josephine, Emmett and Maya. Due to Covid-19 concerns a memorial is delayed to a future date. Although your kind wishes, thoughts and prayers are what matters most to the family, donations can be made in James’ memory to the James S. Jackson Emerging Scholars Fund.


James Sidney Jackson

have a memory or condolence to add?

C Joanne Grabinski

October 13, 2020

Dear Toni and Family,

I am saddened to learn of James' death through the GSA October newsletter. I did not have the privilege of working directly with either James or you, but I experienced the leadership of both of you through GSA, especially at GSA conferences. Although I do not remember which conference it was, I do remember well the warmth and collegiality of a conversation with James about how to incorporate some concepts and materials into the courses I taught--by then, primarily at Eastern Michigan University. He was so generous and kind as he did so, but I most will remember his voice, his smile and his laugh that made the conversation so much more comfortable as we were discussing not-so-comfortable subjects. As a new widow myself, Toni, I will be holding you close in thought and heart as we walk individual, but parallel paths. To your daughters, their husbands and their children, my sadness that this dear man is no longer with them in person, but I sense he will stay close with them in memory throughout their lives.

Edward Podany

September 28, 2020

One of the brightest and funniest people I went to grad school with. Charming, friendly and brilliant. I wish we could all be as talented as you were.

Ed Podany

Thomas Landefeld

September 15, 2020

As a fellow Michigan faulty member who interacted very closely with James for a number of years, I was so sorry to hear of his passing. Not only did the University of Michigan lose a true scholar and gentleman, but the field of ethnic relations lost a true leader. His work will continue to represent the height of the field, especially now considering the current state of race relations in the US. I will always recognize him as a hero, a crusader for doing what is right and a consummate academic scholar.

Kathryn Burnstein

September 14, 2020

Dear Toni and family,
I'm so sorry to hear that James passed away. I remember my parents' parties back when I was a kid. After I was sent upstairs to bed, I would listen to them having fun and I could always pick out Jame's laugh. He was a great scholar and a great man. He will be missed and I will remember him always.
Kathryn Burnstein

Bonnie Hagerty

September 14, 2020

Dear Toni, Ariana, and Kendra- I am so sorry to hear about the passing of James. I have fond memories of our trip to visit you in France and how wonderful James was with the kids. In addition to great personal respect, I admired his scholarship and his dedication to his important research. We are sad. Larry and I are thinking of and praying for you. Bonnie and Larry Hagerty

Kenya (Hunter) Jackson

September 12, 2020

I had the pleasure of working for Dr. Jackson for 2 semesters during my graduate studies. He was one of the nicest, most caring researchers/professors that I ever worked with or for. I am very sad to hear of his passing. He helped me realize how important research "for us, by us" is and I will always be grateful for his leadership and advice.

Gweneeth Conklin

September 12, 2020

James had more energy and ideas than anyone I've ever known. It was an honor to work for him during the data collection phase of The Survey of Black Americans. He was bigger than life and the world will be less because he's gone. My prayers are with the family as they learn to live without this great man.

Love, Gweneeth

myrna weissman

September 9, 2020

James Jackson was my epidemiology hero His work on the rates of psychiatric illness in minority populations were ground changing beautifully done, and much needed. I met James for the first time in a one to one conversation when he came to Columbia to give rounds .He had just been diagnosed and it was weighing heavily on his thoughts. We talked like old friends who made a connection not just in our work.I was happy to have this opportunity but sad to know it was the last time we met.His legacy of work and his personal character will remain. My sympathy to his family. Myrna Weissman

Jim Lustenader

September 6, 2020

Neither myself nor my Dartmouth classmates had the opportunity to meet James but we were proud to make him an honorary member of the Class of 1966 and were looking forward to seeing him when he next traveled to Hanover for a Board of Trustees meeting. Unfortunately, that never came to pass. However, my understanding is that he was very happy to be an adopted son of Dartmouth. My condolences to the entire family--James was a highly accomplished man who admired and loved Dartmouth as we do. His ongoing contributions to the college will be missed.
Jim Lustenader
President, Dartmouth Class of 1966

Michael Blank

September 6, 2020

I had the pleasure of meeting Professor Jackson when I was selected to attend a NIMH workshop at the African American Research Center in Ann Arbor when I was a brand new assistant professor in 1992 if memory serves. That led to an ongoing mentoring relationship with him and his colleagues that was invaluable to me for several decades. He was brilliant and generous and will be missed by many.