One Week, One Weak

It has been a week since I drove to Batesville to Jermaine’s wake. I didn’t know what to expect, nor did I truly care. I simply wanted this to be a moment where I would arrive and I would be told that all of this was a joke and that I was on some sort of candid camera show. I would have been livid for a moment, but then I would let forgiveness rule the day. Unfortunately, it was all too real.

I arrived at the funeral home uncertain what to think or what to feel. I loaded my pocket with handkerchiefs, gathered myself, and walked in. I was directed where to go and informed the family had yet to arrive. I stood for a moment just staring. He just looked like he was taking a nap. So calm; so peaceful. I held it together, but only by the grace of God. I was glad that I had the opportunity before the family arrived simply for the fact that I had to be strong for them.

His brother, sister, and mother soon arrived. I greeted them as they arrived. First, I spoke to his brother Marc. Marc and I have always enjoyed trading jabs and jokes over the years. He arrived with his daughter, who is one of the most adorable children I have ever had the pleasure to see. Then I spoke to his sister Keosha. She is the one who informed me of Jermaine’s death and also acted as my contact with the family for information. Her strength and determination throughout this time were unparalleled. I saw so much of Jermaine in her, especially throughout all of this.

I then spoke to Ms. Claudine. Ms. Claudine has always been a very quiet woman; but when she did speak, all were commanded to listen. It was not because of force of personality, but because if she had something to say, it was going to be something you needed to hear. During our encounters, she always had a smile on her face and cheer in her heart. I remember sharing so many laughs with Jermaine’s family that I will never forget.

Soon, there were other family members who arrived. They were followed by colleagues from Ole Miss and high school friends. Then many friends from Ole Miss trickled in. They were there to pay their respects, but it did my heart good to see some of them. Some of them I have kept in contact with for many years. Some I had not seen in five years. But all in all, it was good to see each of them. Jermaine would be glad to see each of them and want to catch up with them all.  As we all know, Jermaine never met a stranger. If he didn’t know them, they knew him.  If neither he nor the other person knew one another, it was soon changed. He had a way to make people feel comfortable in the most awkward of situations. His calmness under pressure is something I can only hope to one day I am able to do.

I find myself still weak. I have cried until my eyes produced no more tears. I have talked with those closest to me in an attempt to both seek answers, but also to answer the question everyone was asking me, “Why?” I have prayed; I have negotiated; I have pled with God for answers. To paraphrase the Psalm, “Weeping may last for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” We are not meant to deal with tragedy all at once, but as a process. As long as there is a tomorrow, we have the ability to grow and realize there is hope.

Jermaine always described me as a realistic optimist. I have always tried to see the good in all situations, no matter how terrible they may be. This situation is certainly no different. I have reconnected with old friends, reunited with people I never thought I would see or speak to again, and renewed my faith both in my fellow man and Almighty God.  No matter how much darkness there is, there is always light to be found.  We will find closure and peace as time progresses. As long as there is laughter, kindness, faith, determination, and love, we will remember him. Peace be with you.

A Constant in the Chaos: Jermaine Jackson

I met Jermaine Jackson in the Student Media Center at Ole Miss.
My memories of my three years at The Daily Mississippian and the SMC are fuzzy these days, and that’s not because it’s been seven years since I graduated. It’s because those were three incredibly busy years, juggling full-time SMC work with a full-time class schedule.
I can remember the big stories, the laughter, the meltdowns, but most of the day-to-day stuff is just a blur.
But one thing I know for sure is who those busy days and nights were spent with, who I saw and worked beside day in and day out. Plenty of students came and went, but one constant was Jermaine Jackson.

He was always there. Always. I never had to wonder where he was or if he’d get the job done, because he was there before I got there, and the job was done before anyone even thought to assign it or ask about it. News would break, stories could fall apart, whatever – Jermaine was there, and he could probably make you laugh even if things were falling apart.
He was a friendly face in the newsroom every day and a reliable, responsible reporter who went above and beyond.
A newsroom is a stressful work environment, so the SMC wasn’t always the easiest place to be. He’d quickly let you know if he wasn’t happy about something, but he never let anything stop him from working.

I loved my time at the SMC and treasure those days for a number of reasons, mostly because it was there that I met so many friends who became family. Jermaine was an irreplaceable part of that. We’re spread all over the world now, but we’re still family. I’m heartbroken that we’re now missing one of those essential pieces. I hope we all make him proud as we carry on through life with the lessons we learned there.

Rest in peace, Jermaine.

-Sheena Barnett

Remembering Jermaine (from Amanda Pannell)

The passing of Jermaine brings me great sadness, but when I think of all of those years hustling and grinding to get the story – I can only smile. Jermaine and I first met during my time as a producer for NewsWatch at the Student Media Center (SMC) at Ole Miss. After becoming manager, Jermaine who often knew the ropes before the ropes were even sown together, always challenged me to accomplish more, to dig deeper, and truly kept me on my toes as a manager and as a journalist.

Before I knew it, years had passed and this place where I wanted to get experience for the work world had evolved into my family, my friends, my collegues. Countless nights were spent alongside Jermaine working on the ASB debates, calling every contact to get the big news story of the day, and in all honesty laughing and joking along the way. Jermaine’s wittiness, sense of purpose and direction was a huge part in my daily creative process and so many great ideas came from the man himself – not to mention, he was pretty damn funny too.

During my time spent at SMC, Jermaine was a huge part of what we then called “media convergence” and he played an intregal role in creating, designing, and producing what is now known as the TheDMOnline. Jermaine was not only a student and alum of Ole Miss, but he was a part of history. With his efforts, journalism at Ole Miss was revolutionized and he changed the way we all thought about reporting the news.

Not just that, Jermaine sat on the same Student Leadership Council as I when the monument for James Meredith was placed on campus. This day will always be embedded in my mind and I consider this one of our biggest accomplishments. I’m so glad I shared in this historical moment with Jermaine and I know how much this meant for him as well.

There are countless memories of sitting at SMC in the late night hours rehashing the days news or trying to mediate the next day’s work – countless memories of playing games at my house or grabbing drinks at the square after a long day’s work. Just countless memories of his spontaneity, sarcasm, wit, intelligence. My time spent working with Jermaine in the Ole Miss Student Media Center is more than a memory to me – it was the best time of my life and molded my career, my personality, and my work ethic.

May angels lead you in friend.

Remembering Jermaine (Lori Simpson)

On Saturday, January 19, 2013, I actually woke up when my alarm went off. This is a rare occurrence, especially on the weekends. I turned the alarm on my phone off, and immediately hit the Facebook app to see what was going on in the world around me. About three posts in, I stopped. I was in complete and utter shock. Ralph Braseth, who served as the director of student media in my time at the University of Mississippi, had posted the tragic news that my friend and cohort in online media had taken his own life.

I wish I could say I remember the exact moment I met Jermaine Jackson, but unfortunately, all I can recall are a series of passing moments. And maybe that’s how I came to know the unstoppable force that was Jermaine. In short, passing moments. As freshmen in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. As students in the ridiculously early Journalism 101 course with the professor who always said “idear” instead of “idea.” As young, wide-eyed journalists trying to break into the fold at the Student Media Center. 

Jermaine was always there for you, no matter what the problem was. He listened while I panicked over Italian homework and laughed when I cursed out the computer for not cooperating with my wishes. He laughed and joked… but was able to be serious when it came down to business.

My fondest memories are of our late night Sonic runs with Brandon and Jamie, dinners at AJAX and Old Venice Pizza. And that time we decided to do a photo shoot for Double Decker with the ladies of the SMC and their pets. After laughing hysterically after my cat, Falcor, escaped, Jermaine was right there with me, hunting down my terrified cat. I don’t think the photos ever made it to the DM Online.

Although, we grew apart after our year as DM Online editors, I always tried to keep up with Jermaine through Facebook. I always knew is larger than life personality and brilliant mind would take him great places, and I loved that he decided to share his gift with others through academic advising on the college circuit. I wish now that I had been better about keeping in touch. 

I hope everyone will take a minute to think about friends we’ve lost touch with and send them a comforting text or Facebook message to check in. I just wish with all my heart I could have done or said something to help Jermaine with whatever he was struggling with.

However, I refuse to remember him for how his life ended. I will remember him as I do from the night he (and the rest of the DM Online crew) came out to visit me at one of my summer horse shows: funny and the life of the party.



We’ll never forget you, Jermaine.

In Memoriam J. T. J (by Brandon Walters)

Note: This is my post from Facebook last night. I plan to post some additional thoughts later, but this should suffice for now. As I said in my Facebook post, usually I would ask him to edit this for me. He would laugh at my word choices and rag me about the use of Oxford commas. Something tells me he’s reading this and taking notes as we speak.  -BHW

In Memoriam J.T.J.

Jermaine and I first met as next door neighbors at Kincannon Hall. For the first few months we were at Ole Miss, he was gone so much that I always thought the room was empty. Our paths never crossed even once. However, one day as I was running for the Associated Student Body Senate, I saw where Jermaine wrote an endorsement on his famous door white board. “Vote Brandon Walters, ASB Senator for Kincannon. He gets it!” it said. I was surprised; as I said, I had yet to meet the guy. A few days later I met the famously-mysterious Jermaine Jackson through a mutual friend. It was from that day that we became fast friends. I may have lost that election, but I will never forget that initial act of kindness.

Jermaine lived by a code that was eerily similar to that of my own grandfather. First, don’t just work hard, work harder than everyone around you. Secondly, read everything you can get your hands on and educate yourself. Finally, never, ever be idle. After our freshman year, he was one of my roommates. He was always up later than me at night and up before me in the morning. While I would be in the kitchen fumbling with the coffee maker, he would be cheerfully trying to talk about news of the day. It annoyed me at the time, but I would give anything for one more of those talks. It could be about politics, which we both loved. It could even be entertainment news, which I loathed. Anything.

When I would get down about something I thought was significant in life, he would tell me, “God is not through with your situation yet, and you shouldn’t be either.” He was right. God is not through with my situation, nor is He through with yours. He’s not even through with Jermaine’s situation yet. Look at the number of people he influenced. They number not in the hundreds, but in the thousands. He was loved by so many and his legacy will rest in those of us who had the honor to know him until our own final days.

I believe there are thoughts Jermaine had but would never have said. For those who knew Jermaine, I know that might be hard to believe that this was the case. But, I hope you will allow my indulgence. Love is always greater than hate. Forgiveness is always greater than long held grudges. Optimism is always greater than failure. Risk is always greater than comfort. Loyalty is always greater than deception.

He was not just a friend; he was my brother. We will remember him in death as we did in life. In my heart and in my soul, he will always be the nice guy who was just as quick with a joke and a smile as he was a listening ear and sound advice. Without his life, I know not where I would be today. Requiescat in pace, old friend.

The Jermaine I knew (From Arvinder Singh)


Waveland, Mississippi - January 2007

Waveland, Mississippi – January 2007

This photo was taken in Waveland, Mississippi three months after Hurricane Katrina. The most diverse group you would ever see, put together by Prof Ralph Braseth to go down to the coast to help a newspaper. Three days before this picture was taken, was the first time I met Jermaine or anyone else in the group.

But the camaraderie and bonds built while working and living together those five days, changed me forever. The lens through which I saw people, became free of the layers of language, backgroud, race and nationality.

Jermaine was there when I almost got shot by the US marshals when I jumped the barricades in pursuit of meeting the President, when I hosted my first India Night, at Lori’s rodeo show in rural Mississippi and many other times when I was either at my best or my worst. I was at Ole Miss to see him rise and take wings, to see him fall and get back up, and his constant pursuit for greater heights.

The last time I talked to him, was a few months before I left Ole Miss last year. Smiling as always. We talked. But we did not say goodbye. “See you later, Arvinder” he had said. I wish he had kept his promise.

I’m usually pretty bad with keeping in touch with people, but I seldom forget them. I so much wish, I should had told him that others in the group talked about him every time we met, more than he knew.

Jermaine Jackson – hope you have found peace. And hope you know that you will be missed and live in our thoughts until the day we say hello again. In some other world, on some another journey.

Memories of Jermaine (from Brandon Ross)

Graceland Too, 2006

Graceland Too, 2006

I was not happy with Jermaine at this moment. I don’t even remember why, but I remember being so angry with him. That was not uncommon.

Then we went into this old guy’s house at Graceland Too in Holly Springs, Mississippi. The place stunk. Arvinder didn’t quite understand what was happening. I think the old guy might have touched Haley inappropriately. He threatened to put Jamie into forced labor in the backyard because he “looked Mexican.”

Everyone was just happy to have survived the experience, as shown in this photo. No one had to fake a smile. It was a moment I remember like it was last month.

What I remember most about Jermaine was how smart he was. He never stopped thinking. Analyzing. It was remarkable how much he knew about everything going on around him.


We’re all changed by people moving in and out of our lives.  It’s a strange thing.

You take a piece of them with you, they take a piece of you.

And you’re now carrying around a little more, a little less.

Your mass changes.


I can’t imagine anyone not being changed from knowing Jermaine.

I hope he has found peace.


Need a grand idea

Hi everyone, we are looking for, well, quite honestly, I don’t know what we are looking for. Of course we’ll send flowers. This memorial is for us and so that his family will know what he meant to us. Plaque. Brick. Text books for a broke kid. Low key. High impact. Of course Ole Miss would have to okay anything we did. Or not.