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Reich College of Education honors late African-American young adult book author

BOONE—The late Jesse C. Jackson, author of the novel “Call Me Charley,” was honored recently by faculty and staff from Appalachian State University’s Reich College of Education.

View larger imageView larger imageThe late Jesse C. Jackson, author of nine books for young adults, was honored recently by members of the Reich College of Education at Appalachian State University. A portrait of the author of “Call Me Charley” will hang in the education building. (Photos by Jane Nicholson)

Jackson is the first of many former faculty, alumni and staff from the college whose portrait will hang within the education building.

In addition to “Call Me Charley,” which was published in 1945, Jackson wrote seven other novels for young readers and the biography “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord!: The life of Mahalia Jackson.”

“This building is going to become a repository of people who have helped Reich College get to where it is (today),” said Dean Louis B. Gallien Jr. “Jesse Jackson is certainly one of those people.”

Gallien said the first floor of the education building will be used to honor alumni of distinction; the second floor will be used to honor faculty emeriti; illustrations by children’s book author Eric Carle are on display on the third floor; the fourth floor will provide space to honor staff who have served the college and education community; and the fifth floor will provide space to honor additional alumni of the college, he said.

“This is going to be a living building about people and not about stones and bricks,” he said. “Without the people that really helped build this college, it wouldn’t be here.”

Jackson was one of the first African-American professors hired to teach at what was then Appalachian State Teachers College. Dr. David Mielke, professor emeritus in the Department of Leadership and Higher Education, team taught a course in multi-cultural literature for children. He called Jackson one of the great African-American authors of literature for young adults.

Jackson came to Appalachian in 1971 for the first symposium on African-American children’s literature that had ever been held in the country, Mielke said.

The two-week institute, “The Role of Children’s Literature in Intercultural Education,” was supported by a federal grant. Jackson was one of the speakers at the institute, along with other prominent African Americans.

“Jesse C. Jackson made quite an impression on each of us,” Mielke said.

Jackson was named a lecturer and writer in residence in the Reich College of Education in 1974. He was offered emeritus faculty status by the college, but declined the honor as he wasn’t a tenured member of the faculty. However, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the college in 1982. He died April 15, 1983.