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Jackson v. Wright

July 2020
University of North Texas (Public college or university)
Denton, Texas, United States

Identity of Speakers

  • Timothy Jackson
    Faculty/Staff
    Other

    Timothy Jackson is a professor of music theory at the University of North Texas.

Resources

Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
    University-sponsored lecture/address/panel
  • Incident Responses:
    University administration not protective of speech
    Litigation
  • Incident Status:
    In litigation Federal District Court
  • No protest Occured
  • Did not involve Speech Codes

Summary

The Journal of Schenkarian Studies is an academic journal housed at the University of North Texas (UNT) and dedicated to the work of Heinrich Schenker, a 19th century German-Jewish music theorist. Following criticism by scholar Philip Ewell that Schenker was an “ardent racist and German nationalist,” the journal organized a symposium to respond to Ewell’s criticisms. One response by Timothy Jackson, a distinguished university research professor of theory at UNT and a co-editor of the journal, was particularly critical of Ewell, going so far as to accuse him of anti-Semitism. Jackson claimed that Ewell’s attacks on Schenker “occur[] in a much larger context of Black-on-Jew attacks in the U.S.” (Ewell is Black). Jackson went on to make a series of sweeping statements about Black values, culture, and families.

Finding the symposium disturbing, on July 29, 2020 a group of music graduate students at UNT petitioned their dean to publicly condemn the issue and investigate its editorial process, to dissolve the journal, and to potentially remove faculty members who “promote racism.” A majority of the music history, theory and ethnomusicology program’s faculty endorsed the students’ petition. On July 31, UNT announced a formal investigation into the journal, creating an “ad hoc panel” to look into the process that led to the symposium issue being published. On November 25, 2020, this panel published a report criticizing the journal’s structure and the editorial and review process used for the symposium. In response to the panel’s report, Jackson was removed from the journal and resources for the journal were withheld.

On January 14, 2021, Jackson filed a lawsuit against members of the Board of Regents for University of North Texas and other student and faculty alleging § 1983 violations of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights as well as defamation. This case is ongoing.