From the 1930s onward, Jackson associated with a number of Pan-Africanist historians, and published a number of books on African history and religion. In 1939, he wrote an influential pamphlet, “Ethiopia and the Origin of Civilization,” which is still in print and widely read today. He uses the same method as Druscilla Dunjee Houston of quoting the opinion of leading white writers, anthropologists, and historians who included Greco-Roman writers in their praise of “Ethiopians.” Jackson presents Ethiopia as the seat of world civilization which spread to Arabia, Mesopotamia, Persia, India, West Africa, and to the Americas.
He later published Man, God, and Civilization (1972), Introduction to African Civilizations (1974), and Ages of Gold and Silver (1987), where he reiterates and expands his argument of Ethiopia as the first civilization that influenced many later cultures. Other themes include the African origin of humanity, Egypt as an advanced African civilization, the Moors from North Africa bringing civilization to southern Europe in 711 CE, the golden age of West African civilizations, kingdoms of the African interior, and African voyages to the Americas. In these works, Jackson anticipated by decades current research themes in Africana Studies.
Jackson was part of the Harlem History Club (renamed the Blyden Society in 1938) which met at the Harlem YMCA on 135th Street, under the leadership of Willis Huggins, a public high school history teacher. The club was a small circle of young bibliophiles and intellectuals, and also included some African-American students. Many of Huggins students in the Harlem History Club went on to become luminaries. Between 1934 and 1940 in Huggins’ class, the future historians John G. Jackson, Joel A. Rogers, and John Henrik Clarke and the and the future African heads of state Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana all rubbed shoulders with one another.
Ampim, Manu. “History Of African Civilizations, History 110 Course Reader.” Unit 3: Classical African Civilizations (Kush). Oakland, CA: Advancing The Research, 2016. 47.