Harold Jackman photographed by Carl Van Vechten in Morningside Park in Harlem, New York in 1940.
Harold Jackman (August 18, 1901 – July 8, 1961)
was a teacher, model, and patron of the arts with emphasis on Black art and literature. He born in London but his family emigrated to Harlem during his childhood. He attended DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx where he befriended Countee Cullen. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from New York University and his Master’s degree from Columbia University.
Harold taught social studies for 30 years in the New York Public School System. He embraced being prematurely gray and modeled for over 30 years. He was member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, the Urban League, and the Negro Actors Guild on which he served as the executive board. He was also an associate editor of New Challenge magazine and a contributing editor to Phylon academic journal.
Harold was featured in Winold Reiss’ drawing A College Lad (1925). He was the inspiration for Carl Van Vechten’s protagonist in Nigger Heaven (1926). He was also a character in Wallace Thurman’s Infants of Spring (1932).
Harold was a well-known bachelor. He was a member of Harlem’s gay community and frequented the Hamilton Lodge Ball. He may have been a lover of his close friend Countee Cullen. The two often traveled together and Countee dedicated his famous poem “Heritage” to Harold.
Harold founded the Countee Cullen Memorial Collection at Atlanta University, and contributed to the James Weldon Johnson Collection of Yale University, the Literary Collection of Fisk University and to the Schomburg Collection at the Harlem branch of the New York Public Library. He was also a co-founder of the Harlem Experimental Theater.