CIE Night: Lawrence Jackson

The Office of Community, Inclusion, and Equity (CIE) invites the Gilman community to join Lawrence Jackson on Thursday, September 22, 2022, at 5:30 p.m. in Centennial Hall. He will be discussing his book, "Shelter: A Black Tale of Homeland, Baltimore."

Shelter: A Black Tale of Homeland, Baltimore by Lawrence Jackson

About "Shelter: A Black Tale of Homeland, Baltimore"

A stirring consideration of homeownership, fatherhood, race, faith, and the history of an American city.

In 2016, English professor Lawrence Jackson came home, accepting a job at Johns Hopkins in his native Baltimore. In his new book, "Shelter: A Black Tale of Homeland, Baltimore," (Graywolf Press, April 19, 2022), Jackson reflects on that homecoming and the wider history it inhabits, as well as on Baltimore’s complex past and present. What does it mean, he gestures, for a Black man to make a home for his family in a neighborhood that would have been inaccessible to him as a child, to work at a university with a vexed relationship with its neighbors? What kind of inheritance has he been given, and what will he pass on to his boys?

Each chapter in "Shelter" is a finely wrought exploration into a convergence of Baltimore and Jackson's life. A trip to the Maryland shore offers a chance to consider Frederick Douglass’s complicated legacy, an encounter at a Hopkins shuttle bus stop becomes a meditation on public transportation and policing, and Jackson’s beleaguered commitment to his church opens a pathway to reimagine an urban community through jazz.

"Shelter" is at once a nuanced biography of an American city and a lyrical memoir-in-essays exploring the themes and subjects that animate Jackson's life: the joys and responsibilities of caretaking and homeownership, the grounding structure of faith and religious tradition, Black fatherhood and the striving for upward mobility, wrestling with injustice and the undertow of history.

The book received a starred review in Kirkus: “An extraordinary dual portrait of the author and his hometown — angry, tender, incisive, and bracingly eloquent.” Publishers Weekly called it “ a bittersweet meditation on race and belonging ... a stirring reflection on the meaning of home.”


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Childcare will be available for this event.
Jackson's book, "Shelter: A Black Tale of Homeland, Baltimore," is available for purchase in advance for $18.02.
Books must be purchased no later than Friday, September 9.
Sales tax included.

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Lawrence Jackson

About Lawrence Jackson

Lawrence Jackson is the author of the award-winning books "Chester B. Himes: A Biography" (W.W. Norton 2017), "The Indignant Generation: A Narrative History of African American Writers and Critics" (Princeton 2010), "My Father’s Name: A Black Virginia Family after the Civil War" (Chicago 2012) and "Ralph Ellison: Emergence of Genius, 1913-1952" (Wiley 2002). Harper’s Magazine, Paris Review, and Best American Essays have published his criticism and nonfiction. Professor Jackson earned a Ph.D. in English and American literature at Stanford University and has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Humanities Center, and the William J. Fulbright program. He began his teaching career at Howard University in 1997 and he is now Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of English and history at Johns Hopkins University, where he directs the Billie Holiday Center for Liberation Arts. His latest books are "Hold It Real Still: Clint Eastwood, Race, and the Cinema of the American West" (Johns Hopkins University Press 2022) and "Shelter: A Black Tale from Homeland, Baltimore" (Graywolf 2022).

In addition to his writing and research, Jackson launched and now serves as director of the Billie Holiday Center for the Liberation Arts, an initiative that showcases the unique arts, history, and culture of Baltimore. Founded in 2017, the project fosters organic links between the intellectual life of Johns Hopkins University and the city’s historic African American communities, celebrating the strengths and potential of both. The BHCLA serves a cultural purpose, hosting regular events to nurture such connections, as well as an archival one, protecting artifacts of African American culture and politics.