Revisiting Samuel L. Jackson’s Days as a Student Activist

Another side of the iconic actor

Samuel L. Jackson
Samuel L. Jackson attends Tyler Perry Studios grand opening gala at Tyler Perry Studios on October 05, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Tyler Perry Studios

Acclaimed actor, avid golfer, ubiquitous screen presence and style icon — Samuel L. Jackson is a busy man, and has been for the duration of his long career. And while he’s someone with plenty of stories to tell about his work acting on stage and screen, Jackson’s life before he became one of the country’s most recognizable actors is just as fascinating.

This week, Literary Hub published an excerpt from Gavin Edwards’s biography Bad Motherfucker: The Life and Movies of Samuel L. Jackson, the Coolest Man in Hollywood. That excerpt doesn’t look at his long series of collaborations with director Spike Lee, or his time spent essaying memorable roles in blockbuster films. Instead, it takes the reader back to Jackson’s time at Morehouse College in the late 1960s — and explains how he ended up expelled from the college in question.

It was during his time at Morehouse, Edwards writes, that Jackson joined Concerned Students, an organization of students looking to reform Morehouse. Among the changes they advocated were the creation of a Black studies program and more engagement with the housing projects located near campus. As was the case with many a student group seeking to make themselves heard, Concerned Students soon engaged in a lock-in to make the case for their demands.

Unfortunately, while the college’s trustees were open to some of the changes proposed by Concerned Students, the college’s administration was less impressed. That, in turn, led to Jackson’s expulsion — and set his life on a very different path than he might have expected. Morehouse was also where Jackson also solidified his love of acting — something that would loom large in his life over the years to come.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.