James N. Jackson was born in Brooklyn, New York and educated in the New York City Public School system. As a senior at Boys High School in 1967, he was the most sought after high school runner in the country, earning him recognition in Sports Illustrated. On one occasion, James held National Interscholastic Indoor records for the 600-yard dash and the 880-yard run – he still holds the New York State Public High School outdoor record for the mile, set in 1967.
James played an integral role in two Penn Relays championships. In 1966, he ran the mile on the Boys High distance medley championship team. In winning, the team set a new Penn Relays record of 10:09.8 and earned the school a spot on the Penn Relays Wall of Fame. The following year, James anchored the Boys High two-mile relay team to the championship.
James also anchored the Boys High two-mile relay team in a famous race at the 1966 Catholic High Schools Athletic Association Relay Carnival. Boys High and Andrew Jackson High were timed in the identical time of 7:35.6, shattering the previous national record in the event – the new record stood for over 35 years.
After his illustrious and unparalleled high school track career, James received a full athletic scholarship to Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. In 1974, he inherited the head track coaching position from his high school track coach and mentor, Doug Terry. Under Coach Jackson’s guidance and leadership as track coordinator, the Boys and Girls High School teams have secured many City and Penn Relays championships. In 2002, Coach Jackson’s girls’ team won the 4x800 at the Penn Relays in 8:50.41, establishing a national high school record. The team still holds the national indoor record in the event in 8:53.67.
What is more impressive are the innumerable Boys and Girls High School student-athletes from track & field who have gone on to obtain their undergraduate and graduate degrees from major colleges and universities throughout the country.
In addition to his noteworthy athletic, coaching, and mentoring achievements, James has been the recipient of many distinguished awards, including the 1995 New York City Council Proclamation for “Man of Courage” and the 1998 New York State Assembly Proclamation. In 2005, he was elevated to the Armory Coaches Hall of Fame. In 2010, James was named the Penn Relays Honorary High School Chairman.
James currently is a dean at the Boys and Girls High School and is President of the Boys High Alumni of Track and Field organization. He would like to express his profound appreciation and thanks to his family for their continued support, and including his wife, Joanne C. Jackson; his daughters, Audra, Tia, and Etoile; his son, Genesis; and his grandchildren, Madison, Kysheena, Coreen, and Nathaniel.