Among other precedents set at UNC, two of the first Black faculty members on campus to receive tenure were also some of the first African-American professors in the Southeast. Blyden and Roberta Jackson, who both died over 18 years ago, still have a legacy on UNC's campus.
After graduating high school at the age of 14, Blyden Jackson went to Columbia University in New York but returned after his father's salary was cut. A job then became available to him in a nontraditional and tragic way. Juliette Delacott, who was the Assistant Dean of Women at Fisk University, was in a car accident and all of the physicians in the area were white. Because she was a Black woman, they refused to help her, and she died as a result. Blyden Jackson took her place.
While teaching, Blyden Jackson spent the summers working on his master’s and doctorate degrees.
“Almost any teacher, it seems to me, who goes to summer school has, among other things in his mind, the fear of not doing well because he's afraid that the students he's teaching back at home will find out that he's having trouble at school himself,” Blyden Jackson told the Southern Oral Historical Program in a 1991 interview.
He received a Rosenwald Fellowship with the aid of the president of Fisk University and completed his doctorate at the University of Michigan in 1952.