Powerful…full of impossible hope….Jackson’s prose has a spoken-word cadence, the language flying off the page with percussive energy…there is a warmth and a hard-won wisdom about the intersection of race and poverty in America.” – New York Times Book Review

Mitchell Jackson came to visit our boys and they were mesmerized.  He was born in Portland, Oregon to a teenage mother.  While Jackson’s biological father was absent, Jackson was co-parented by his mother’s boyfriend who was a former convict supporting himself and the family as a pimp. Around the time Jackson turned ten, his mother began using crack cocaine, an addiction that lasted into Jackson’s adulthood. Jackson meanwhile started selling crack in his teens. In 1996 he was arrested and later convicted for drug distribution. He spent 16 months in an Oregon state prison. Upon his release, Jackson—who was already a college Junior—re-enrolled in college. He earned a Bachelors of Speech Communication and retuned two years later to earn a Masters of Writing degree from Portland State University. He moved to New York and later earned an MFA from New York University.

 Now Jackson has been the recipient of fellowships from Urban Artist Initiative and The Center For Fiction and is the former winner of the Hurston Wright Foundation’s award for college writers. Jackson teaches writing at New York University. He published the e-book Oversoul: Stories and Essays in the summer of 2012.  His novel The Residue Years was released in the summer of 2013 and was praised by publications such as The New York Times, The Times of London, and O, the Oprah Magazine. The novel was also  a finalist for the Center For Fiction’s prize for debut novel of the year.


Jackson is REALLY into talking with people inside, and he has a LOT to offer them. The kids connected with him immediately and were really amazed that he made it out of his situation. Some are still talking about his visit. Mitchell’s book is not a quick pick book, and yet in spite of that, out of 30 books given out I only found about 5 on the shelf in the months after the visit – which means the kids were reading and keeping the book (it was theirs to keep).

 Here are a few of the topics he covers: 

  • Inspirational Commencement Addresses About Perseverance
  • How Writing Saved My life
  • Literature as Prison Rehabilitation
  • Life Beyond the Walls: The Remedy of Reading and Writing For Ex Prisoners
  • The Importance of Education
  • R.E.S.P.E.C.T: Truths About Black Manhood
  • From At-risk Youth to the Safety of Reading and Writing

To contact Mitchell about a speaking event, email mitchell@mitchellsjackson.com

I recommend him HIGHLY.

Press links: 




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