The City of Jackson recognizes James Cherry as October Hub City Hero

November 7, 2023

Local poet and author and founder of “The Griot Collective” James Cherry has been selected as October 2023 Hub City Hero.

Cherry’s nominator said that they nominated him for “his longtime dedication to teaching youth in Jackson how to express themselves through written and spoken word art platforms.”

Cherry, an author of three books of poems, two novels, and one collection of short fiction, said that Dr. [Martin Luther] King’s concept of community is how he thinks community should be.

“When I think of community, I just don't think of neighborhoods or districts but the whole city as a community. For example, if East Jackson does well, then the entire city is lifted up,” said Cherry. “I feel that since I'm a life-long citizen here that it's incumbent that I give back in some form or fashion, so that's one of my missions is to try to help where I can.”

“The Griot Collective,” of which Cherry founded, is a literary arts organization in Jackson that hosts poetry workshops and teaches about community activism.

“We bring in different writers of national reputation to the city,” said Cherry. “We sponsor poetry contests for kids. We have a visiting writer's series and we have open mics around the city.”

Cherry was an instrumental member of the team that helped with the efforts to pay homage and celebrate Gil Scott-Herron, a world-renowned poet with deep roots in Jackson. There is now a marker in Jackson recognizing Gil Scott-Herron’s contributions to this art form because of the efforts of community leaders including James Cherry.

Cherry believes that each individual has a voice and to not feel as though they do not have an opinion and that they should “start where you are.”

“If it's your neighborhood or your school or whatever it may be and find someone who has like-interest and shares your desire. That's how movements start,” said Cherry. “I think about some of the movements that are popular around Jackson and our country. They basically started with one person who wanted to make a difference. You can make a difference right where you are.”

“James' commitment to the community through the arts, including his work with his literary organization, has enriched our city's cultural landscape,” said Mayor Scott Conger. “His heart for those who express themselves through writing is a testament to the power of passion and the profound impact one person can have on a city.”

“Hub City Heroes” selflessly and steadily give of their time and talent to improve the lives of others in the community. Recognition as a hero is one small way to thank these public servants for their efforts and it gives honorees the opportunity to raise awareness for causes that are important to them.


  • Committed to improving the quality of life of others in Jackson
  • Contributes time to community activities in a volunteer capacity
  • Serves as a role model and inspiration to others
  • Focuses on growth and well-being of the community we serve
  • Empowers and engages others to give back
  • Demonstrates integrity, collaboration, innovation and respect

Recipients will be selected monthly and nominations are continuous. To nominate a hero, visit Candidates must be a resident of Jackson, Tennessee

After a year of heroes have been recognized, one hero will be selected and awarded $1,000 to donate to a non-profit of their choice. For more information, visit