Shawon Jackson is an MPP/MBA candidate at the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government and Stanford Graduate School of Business. Before graduate school, he worked at an education nonprofit in the Dominican Republic, was a public sector consultant with Deloitte, and was an Education Pioneers Fellow with a nonprofit in DC. Shawon graduated from Princeton, where he majored in public and international affairs and served two terms as student body president.
As a Cheng Fellow, Shawon plans to build Vocal Justice, an organization whose mission is to teach undervalued high school students how to communicate authentically and persuasively about social justice. By engaging students in a culturally sustaining public-speaking program, Vocal Justice helps students tap into the power of their authentic voice and speak out against injustices impacting them and their communities. As students learn to master the tool of persuasion for social justice, they also learn how some persuasion tactics (e.g., respectability politics and “poverty porn”) can be counter to a long-term justice-driven agenda, even if they are “effective” in the short-term. Ultimately, Vocal Justice goes beyond building students’ communication skills to building their critical consciousness.