Mitchell S. Jackson delivered the keynote address at the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Commemoration at Cornell University. The event, The Other America II, invited Cornell University and Ithaca College to commemorate Dr. King's legacy by reflecting on his 1967 speech, "The Other America." King's speech probed the racial and economic inequality that divided the nation, while Jackson discussed how it still persists today.
Reflecting on his own experiences of the Other America growing up in Northeast Portland, Oregon, Jackson described entrenched psychological factors that can perpetuate the cycle of inequality: "'Other America' exists because poverty becomes a part of one’s view of the world, as well as one’s expectations of oneself. The affluent society isn’t even a hope but rather a taunt. When one is so far removed from 'America the beautiful,’ it is difficult to believe it is an achievable possibility."
Jackson, who teaches writing at Liberal Studies, is the author of The Residue Years and Oversoul and a 2018 TED Senior Fellow.