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Katherine Jones

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Information about Katherine Jones

Profile image of Katherine Jones

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Civil Rights Activist
Historian

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Purple, Red
Favorite Food:
Lobster
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Africa
Favorite Quote:
Love many. Trust a few. But always paddle your own canoe.

Birthplace

Born:
3/19/1936
Birth Location:
New York, New York

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Civil Rights Activist
Historian

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Purple, Red
Favorite Food:
Lobster
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Africa
Favorite Quote:
Love many. Trust a few. But always paddle your own canoe.

Birthplace

Born:
3/19/1936
Birth Location:
New York
See how Katherine Jones is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Katherine Butler Jones was born on March 19, 1936, the only child of Meme, a hairdresser, and Theodore, a postal clerk. Jones grew up at 409 Edgecombe Avenue in Harlem’s Sugar Hill neighborhood, an address that W.E.B. DuBois, Walter White, Thurgood Marshall, and Madame St. Clair also called home. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1957 with a B.A. in economics and sociology and married Hubie Jones later that year. After working as a teacher in the Boston Public Schools, Katherine became a mother to Karen in 1959. Daughters Lauren, Renee, Lisa, Cheryl, and Tanya, and sons Harlan and Hamilton would follow.

In 1961, she and her husband bought a home in Newton, Massachusetts, where only two realtors would show a house to a black family. They subsequently became active in the Newton Fair Housing and Equal Rights Committee. In 1964, Jones served as a founding director of the Roxbury/Newton Freedom School, an after-school program. In 1966, she founded the Newton Public Schools’ Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunities (METCO) Program, which still enrolls students of color from Boston in Newton schools. She served as METCO’s director through 1976.

In 1967, Jones received her M.A. in urban education at Simmons College, and continued to promote integration by working for the Cambridge and Boston Public Schools during Boston’s turbulent desegregation efforts in the late 1970s. Jones was elected to the Newton School Committee in 1978 for the first of four terms, making history as the first successful African American candidate. In 1980, she earned her Ed.D. in administration and social policy from Harvard University.

In 1989, Jones discovered that black abolitionist Bishop Henry Highland Garnet had certified her great-great grandparents’ 1843 marriage. Upon further investigation, she found that her great-grandfather, Edward Weeks, brought slaves to Canada through an Underground Railroad station in the Adirondacks, where he had purchased land for a dollar from abolitionist Gerrit Smith. Edward named his homestead Timbucto, and John Brown moved to the area to support the settlers. Jones has shared this research in multiple museum exhibits and journal articles. In 1996, she received the New England PEN Discovery Author Award for her historical writing. In 2002, she co-authored The Civil Rights Movement in Newton, 1960-1980. Jones has also taught pedagogy and African American history at Simmons College, Wheelock College, and Boston University. She is currently working on her memoir, Deeper Roots: An American Odyssey. An excerpt, “409 Edgecombe Avenue, Baseball and Madame St. Clair,” was published in Herb Boyd’s The Harlem Reader in 2003 and inspired a play that was staged in Boston in 2004.

The Joneses live in Newton and have five grandchildren.

See how Katherine Jones is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Katherine Jones interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Katherine Jones's favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Katherine Jones talks about her mother's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Katherine Jones talks about her father's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Katherine Jones explains research she's done on her genealogy
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Katherine Jones discusses ways her genealogical research has been made public
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Katherine Jones recalls an article she wrote for 'Orion' magazine
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Katherine Jones gives suggestsions for conducting family history research
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Katherine Jones recalls her childhood neighborhood in Harlem
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Katherine Jones talks about influential residents in her childhood apartment building
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Katherine Jones recalls vivid memories from her childhood in New York City
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Katherine Jones remembers early elementary school experiences
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Katherine Jones explains racial issues she faced when attending private elementary school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Katherine Jones talks about her high school experiences
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Katherine Jones explains her childhood dreams and aspirations
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Katherine Jones explains how she met her husband
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Katherine Jones recalls attending Mount Holyoke College
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Katherine Jones describes her post-graduation plans
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Katherine Jones talks about experiences as a teacher with Boston Public Schools
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Katherine Jones remembers facing racial discrimination when trying to buy a house
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Katherine Jones gives the names of her children
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Katherine Jones recounts her early involvement in the Newton, Massachusetts community
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Katherine Jones explains the reasoning behind the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunities program
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Katherine Jones tells of the growth of the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunities program
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Katherine Jones explains why she left the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunities program
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Katherine Jones details time spent as part of the Newton School Committee
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Katherine Jones recounts her experiences at Harvard University Graduate School of Education
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Katherine Jones talks about her post-Harvard occupations and accomplishments
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Katherine Jones comments on raising a family while progressing within her professional life
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Katherine Jones discusses details on how she began researching her family's past
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Katherine Jones tells how she helped preserve Newton, Massachusetts's black history
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Katherine Jones reflects on her life
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Katherine Jones shares her concerns for the African American community