Before coming to academe he worked as a longshoreman, shipyard rigger, construction worker and community organizer. He is the author of Let This Voice Be Heard: Anthony Benezet, Father of Atlantic Abolitionism, co-editor with Jackie Bacon of African-Americans and the Haitian Revolution and co-editor with Susan Kozel of Quakers and their Allies in the Abolitionist Cause, 1754-1808.
Jackson has won many fellowships and is the author of many articles on the Atlantic world and African American history and culture. He is co-editor of a special issue on Jazz in D.C. in Washington History. Jackson wrote the liner notes to the 2 jazz CDs by Charlie Haden and Hank Jones, Steal Away: Spirituals, Folks Songs and Hymns and Come Sunday. He has recently lectured in France, Turkey, Italy, Puerto Rico and Qatar.
A 2009 inductee into the Washington, D.C. Hall of Fame, he was appointed by the Mayor and the Council of the District of Columbia as the first chair of the DC Commission on African American Affairs (2013-2016) and serves as special advisor on D.C. Affairs to Georgetown University President Jack DeGioia. In the fall of 2017, he will issue a report to the D.C. Government, “An Analysis: African American Employment, Population & Housing Trends in Washington, D.C.” Also in the winter 2017-18 Georgetown University Press is publishing his co-edited book Jazz in D.C. He is at work on Halfway to Freedom: African Americans and the Struggle for Social Progress in Washington, D.C.
He and his wife Laura Ginsburg live in DC and have two children. Lena is a 2003 graduate of the National Cathedral School for Girls and a 2007 graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and was a member of the varsity track team. She recently received her MA in documentary film at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Miles is a 2006 graduate of the St. Albans School of Boys and a 2010 graduate of the University of Michigan where he was a member of the Men's Soccer team. He is the founder and executive director of Cuba Skate, which promotes understanding between US and Cuba youth through the sport of skateboarding.