The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Shirley H. Jones

Shirley Jones was born November 1, 1928, in New Orleans, and her parents divorced within a year of her birth. Jones spent the majority of her early childhood with her grandmother, as her mother taught in rural areas and was home only for the weekends. In addition to teaching, Jones's mother successfully organized rural communities, composed primarily of sharecroppers, to improve schoolhouse conditions.

Because her mother wanted a better school environment for Jones, they moved to the Watts area in Los Angeles when she was fourteen. In 1953, she graduated from Los Angeles State College with a B.A. in education, and went on to graduate study in speech therapy at the University of Southern California.

When the Head Start program began in 1965, Jones was appointed to set up the first ten Head Start centers in Los Angeles. By 1968, increasingly aware of the special needs of their community, Jones and her husband, James L. Jones, a psychiatrist, founded the Kedren Community Mental Health Center in the Watts-Compton area of Los Angeles. This center was named after one of their daughters. Today, Kedren Community Center has grown exponentially. It provides a full range of psychological services, including group and individual therapy for children and adults and programs in community psychology.

Jones has a Doctorate in Psychology, is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and also has a Certification in Psycho-Drama.

Accession Number

A2001.042

Sex

Female

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

7/24/2001

Last Name

Jones

Maker Category
Middle Name

H.

Organizations
Archival Photo 2
First Name

Shirley

Birth City, State, Country

New Orleans

HM ID

JON01

Favorite Season

Easter, Fall

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Greece

Favorite Quote

The best is yet to come.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

11/1/1928

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Barbecue

Short Description

Marriage and family therapist Shirley H. Jones (1928 - ) is the co-founder of Kendren Community Mental Health Center, providing a full range of psychological services in the Watts-Compton area of Los Angeles. Previously, when the Head Start program began in 1965, Jones was appointed to set up the first ten Head Start centers in Los Angeles.

Employment

Kedren Community Mental Health Center

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:246,3:574,8:2296,70:3362,87:13616,277:14222,285:15636,303:17959,334:23032,351:23868,368:24400,377:24704,382:26730,391:27310,407:27658,414:28238,429:28470,434:31975,482:32425,489:32875,499:33250,505:33775,514:36605,530:38591,553:39161,566:39389,571:39902,581:44222,673:44814,683:46294,706:46960,716:48884,764:49254,770:49550,775:49994,782:50438,789:54320,875:54905,886:55165,891:55815,907:56400,918:56985,929:58025,947:58350,953:59130,969:70326,1076:70842,1083:71358,1091:72132,1102:75713,1127:76506,1146:79022,1179:80590,1190:81166,1198:81934,1210:85164,1229:91453,1315:96868,1343:98716,1376:99244,1388:99640,1395:100036,1402:101540,1410:102564,1432:104738,1453:107306,1480:110302,1518:111265,1528:113458,1543:114039,1558:114454,1564:115118,1574:115782,1583:121490,1620:121758,1625:122227,1634:122562,1640:122830,1645:123768,1676:124438,1692:124840,1700:125108,1705:127520,1754:127989,1762:128324,1771:128592,1776:129262,1787:129865,1798:130133,1803:130937,1818:133483,1873:133885,1880:138934,1909:140514,1936:147872,2040:148962,2052:154165,2107:155304,2126:155572,2131:163829,2233:164588,2246:165002,2253:165278,2258:167030,2283$0,0:3796,47:5054,68:6238,88:6608,94:7496,124:8088,134:8754,151:11122,232:17773,320:26184,395:26760,420:33244,563:34264,583:35488,602:36100,614:36576,622:36848,627:40068,655:45124,756:45440,761:46625,781:53080,857:58796,910:59720,959:60567,973:62415,1006:63878,1030:65264,1051:68734,1070:72254,1156:78328,1213:78740,1218:81808,1242:86320,1343:87220,1353:88620,1371:93050,1452:93338,1459:96960,1498:98080,1515:99360,1541:101200,1590:101760,1598:108928,1688:114773,1751:116071,1783
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Photo - Shirley Jones, 1965

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Photo - Shirley Jones's grandson, James Henry Warner

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Photo - Publicity photo for the documentary film 'The Burden of Truth'

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Photo - Shirley Jones with her daughters, Kedren, Marne, and Shawn, ca. 1970s

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Photo - Shirley Jones's husband, Dr. James L. Jones, 1965

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Photo - Shirley Jones's doctorate diploma from the American Behavioral Studies Institute, Santa Ana, California, 1998

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Photo - Shirley Jones's daughter, Shawn, with her husband Vaughn and her sons, Jordan and Austin, 1999

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Slating of Shirley Jones interview

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Shirley Jones's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Shirley Jones remembers meeting her absent Caucasian father

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Shirley Jones describes her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Shirley Jones describes her grandmother's life

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Shirley Jones describes her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Shirley Jones describes her relationships wth her mother and grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Shirley Jones discusses her biracial identity

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Shirley Jones describes her family's socio-economic status

Tape: 1 Story: 17 - Shirley Jones discusses her place of birth, New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Shirley Jones discusses her father's absence

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Shirley Jones talks about her childhood love of theater

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Shirley Jones describes her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Shirley Jones discusses moving to California

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Shirley Jones describes Watts-Compton, California

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Shirley Jones talks about her high school theater experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Shirley Jones discusses racial prejudice in California

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Shirley Jones describes how she met her husband

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Shirley Jones discusses her husband's decision to go to medical school

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Shirley Jones remembers one of her plays

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Shirley Jones describes her early marriage and acting career

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Shirley Jones discusses the limited acting roles for African Americans in the 1940s and 1950s, part 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Shirley Jones discusses the limited acting roles for African Americans in the 1950s, part 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Shirley Jones discusses founding the Kedren Community Mental Health Center

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Shirley Jones describes finding funding for the Kedren clinic

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Shirley Jones discusses Head Start and the Kedren clinic

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Shirley Jones describes the problem of creating mental health facilities for African Americans

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Shirley Jones describes the Kedren Mental Health Center's mission

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Shirley Jones talks about her work with children at the Kedren Mental Health Center

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Shirley Jones discusses contemporary employment and personal development

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Shirley Jones talks about the mission and beginnings of Head Start

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Shirley Jones talks about finding funding and support for Head Start

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Shirley Jones talks about the Head Start staff

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Shirley Jones describes the psychological benefit of Head Start on child development

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Shirley Jones discusses the needs of the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Shirley Jones talks about her daughters

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Shirley Jones discusses inadequacies in education and child-rearing

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Shirley Jones talks about her husband's death, leaving her in debt

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Shirley Jones describes developing several youth programs soon after her husband's death

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Shirley Jones credits her mother for her success

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Shirley Jones discusses her hopes and fears for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Shirley Jones discusses her legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Shirley Jones talks about her hopes for the African American community

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

2$4

DATitle
Shirley Jones discusses founding the Kedren Community Mental Health Center
Shirley Jones discusses Head Start and the Kedren clinic
Transcript
So your husband [Dr. James L. Jones] is back and he chose psychiatry, which is totally different for--I mean, 'cause I know--I--we interviewed [Dr.] Alvin Poussaint and it just struck me thinking, what would a black person think about doing psychiatry?$$Well, they asked him. When he finished, Jim was asked, "How is it, doing black psychiatry?" He said, "Well, you know the same dynamics that make white people crazy, are the same dynamics that make black people crazy." But we always said, "We would never go crazy." It was never identified. And that was the most difficult thing to get the Compton [California]-Watts [Los Angeles, California] community--it took us weeks and months of meeting with community people who were the leaders in the community to allow that mental health center [Kedren Community Mental Health Center, Los Angeles, California] to be there. Because at that time we weren't willing to accept the responsibility of being black, poor and crazy. And mental health meant being crazy. "Nothing wrong with my mind," was the retaliation. But they bought into it because it would provide jobs. And when we opened the center, we opened it in a little storefront kind of thing. The first Kedren was a refurbished theater. We were waiting for the building grant to come. But we had the staffing grant. And we did something unheard of--it had not been done. Mental health workers that they gave us the grant to employ were people who wanted to be in nursing or community people. We took community people and put them through a whole series of training which Dr. Jones did on his own. And gave them the money that would have been for the mental health worker. Many of them went on to get their nursing career or went into various parts of that profession because by that time, the, the field of mental health was opening for psychologists. Before that, psychologists couldn't practice psychiatry. They couldn't treat. I don't know if you remember that era or not. But our license did not allow us to, to actually do treatment plans. We had to be in correlation with the psychiatrist. And then they would--and then they would--and we still can't do prescriptions. So that was how we brought the community to accept this building being put there.$In the mean time, Head Start came out. And my children were at the school that got the first pilot program [in July 1965]. Which was Center for Early Education [Los Angeles, California]. And they asked me if I would be one of the teachers. And I--of course, I accepted it. But I got so hooked into understanding how much those early years meant, I applied for a Head Start grant. And I was first [January 1966] put under the Urban League. Eventually I moved it from the Urban League to Kedren [Community Mental Health Center, Los Angeles, California]. And that was one of the sustaining factors because the funding came directly to the Kedren Head Starts. And I had set up ten centers in poverty pockets. And it served the mental health center in this particular way. We didn't have--Kedren Mental Health Center did not have any visibility in the community. It was a new corporation. 'Cause it was first his [husband Dr. James L. Jones's] private practice. So when he applied for a non-profit structure for--from it, that was a big to-do because it was not known. Urban League. We had--here's another [laughing] thing. No, no mental health situations out here. So what we did was put Head Starts from Burbank [California] to Hollywood [Los Angeles, California] to Watts [Los Angeles, California]-Compton [California]. We had something like twenty-five, thirty centers all in poverty pockets. Kedren got its visibility. So it was no more a little bit of a program. And then the funding began to come through. We got the first million and a half dollar grant out of the federal government that had been ever been gotten in Watts, black or white. That's how important that work was. A million and a half dollars. Kedren now is a thirty million dollar operation.