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Mona Lake Jones

Poet and educator Mona Lake Jones (known to many as “Grandhoney”) was born on August 30, 1939 in Mason City, now Grand Coulee, Washington. The daughter of Pauline Sims Lake and Sylvester James Lake, Jones grew up in Spokane, Washington where she attended McKinley Elementary School, Libby Junior High School and graduated from Lewis and Clark High School in 1957. There, she was a drum majorette who enjoyed music and poetry. Attending Washington State University on a music scholarship, Jones was the only black woman on campus for an entire semester. She graduated with her B.S. degree in education in 1961. Jones later attended the University of Washington and earned her Ed.D. degree in education from Seattle University in 1991.

Moving to Seattle, Washington, Jones taught in Seattle Public Schools, area colleges and was a leader in Mt. Zion Baptist Church’s Ethnic School, a Saturday school to unite children around common themes of heritage, assertiveness and academics. Jones has served as president of the Washington State Community College Black Educators, as National Vice-President of the Council of Black American Affairs and was president of the Black Child Development Institute from 1995 to 1997. She was also Director of Public Relations for Seattle Community Colleges.

Jones’ first poem was published in Essence magazine in 1990 and that led her to write The Color of Culture, now in its seventh printing, and two sequels, The Color of Culture II and The Color of Culture III. She also authored Unleashing the Power of a Sister. Her 1992 poem, “A Roomful of Sisters” was commissioned by 100 Black Women of Boston, a national civic group, and exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The poem inspired a painting by Paul Goodnight, a number of conferences and a yearly New York meeting called ARFOS. Jones has served as a poet curator and a poet laureate for the City of Seattle and King County. She is a full-time poet and motivational speaker, spending much of her time on the road, speaking at colleges, conventions and to civic groups about issues of culture and diversity. Jones has appeared on programs with Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover, Susan Taylor, Maxine Waters, Shirley Chisholm, Myrlie Evers-Williams and Randall Robinson. Jones also composed the lyrics for Vanessa Williams’ musical recording of “Open Your Eyes, You Can Fly”. Jones has received numerous awards, including the Blackbird Literary Award and the Langston Hughes Award.

Jones is married to publisher, Joe Jones, has two grown children and three grandchildren.

Jones was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 28, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.310

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/5/2008 |and| 10/28/2007 |and| 10/7/2017

Last Name

Jones

Maker Category
Middle Name

Lake

Schools

Clarke High School

McKinley Elementary School

Libby Junior High School

Lewis & Clark High School

Washington State University

University of Washington

Seattle University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Mona

Birth City, State, Country

Mason City

HM ID

JON19

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Washington

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

Kindness is magnetic. It draws out the best in others.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Washington

Birth Date

8/30/1939

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Seattle

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken, Dumplings

Short Description

Poet, education administrator, and motivational speaker Mona Lake Jones (1939 - ) served as president of the Washington State Community College Black Educators and was president of the Black Child Development Institute from 1995 to 1997. She served as poet curator of Seattle and poet laureate of King County.

Employment

Harrison School

Seattle Community Colleges

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Mona Lake Jones' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Mona Lake Jones lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Mona Lake Jones describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Mona Lake Jones describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Mona Lake Jones describes her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Mona Lake Jones describes her father's family background and education

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Mona Lake Jones describes her parents' relationship

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Mona Lake Jones describes her father's career

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Mona Lake Jones describes her father's personality and her likeness to him

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Mona Lake Jones recalls her neighborhood in Spokane, Washington

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Mona Lake Jones describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Mona Lake Jones recalls her early awareness of race

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Mona Lake Jones describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Mona Lake Jones remembers her drama lessons

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Mona Lake Jones recalls her early activities

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Mona Lake Jones describes her early experiences of racial discrimination

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Mona Lake Jones remembers the Orbit Club in Spokane, Washington

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Mona Lake Jones recalls Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Mona Lake Jones recalls her social life at the State College of Washington in Pullman, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Mona Lake Jones describes her experiences at the State College of Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Mona Lake Jones remembers her professors at the State College of Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Mona Lake Jones reflects upon her experiences of discrimination, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Mona Lake Jones reflects upon her experiences of discrimination, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Mona Lake Jones recalls her early teaching career in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Mona Lake Jones remembers learning about African American history

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Mona Lake Jones talks about her graduate education

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Mona Lake Jones describes the Mt. Zion Ethnic School in Seattle, Washington, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Mona Lake Jones describes the Mt. Zion Ethnic School in Seattle, Washington, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Mona Lake Jones recalls working with the Black Child Development Institute

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Mona Lake Jones describes her organizational involvement

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Mona Lake Jones remembers her doctoral dissertation

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Mona Lake Jones talks about her parenting philosophy

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Mona Lake Jones describes her early poetry

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Mona Lake Jones describes the inspiration for her poetry

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Mona Lake Jones describes her concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Mona Lake Jones reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Mona Lake Jones describes her family

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Mona Lake Jones reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Mona Lake Jones describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Mona Lake Jones narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Mona Lake Jones narrates her photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Mona Lake Jones narrates her photographs, video and transcript

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Slating of Mona Lake Jones' interview, session 3

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Mona Lake Jones describes her role in public relations for Seattle Community Colleges in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Mona Lake Jones recalls her work in teacher education at Pacific Oaks College - Northwest in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Mona Lake Jones talks about the renaming of King County in the State of Washington

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Mona Lake Jones describes her philosophy on education

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Mona Lake Jones talks about her work with the YWCA in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Mona Lake Jones talks about the mandate of the YWCA

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Mona Lake Jones describes her weekly meetings with other African American senior citizens

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Mona Lake Jones talks about her book, 'Nectar from Grandhoney,' pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Mona Lake Jones talks about the 2008 presidential election

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Mona Lake Jones describes her work with senior citizens

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Mona Lake Jones talks about her book, 'Nectar from Grandhoney,' pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Mona Lake Jones talks about her recent book projects

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Mona Lake Jones reflects upon her life and legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Mona Lake Jones describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Mona Lake Jones talks about her racial identity

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Mona Lake Jones describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

4$1

DATitle
Mona Lake Jones describes her organizational involvement
Mona Lake Jones describes the inspiration for her poetry
Transcript
Even as I am moved into the Seattle Links chapter [The Links, Incorporated], I chaired the services to youth portion, and I recognized that our kids weren't passing the SATs, and I thought, why aren't they passing the SATs? They're bright. Why, why are they finding that so difficult? So I got some black men and they were the black engineers in Seattle [Washington], and set up a Saturday series. Come in and learn how to take the SAT exam. So I did that for, I don't know, five, six, seven, eight years, helped kids pass that SAT. And I went out and found volunteers who would come in and do that, particularly, with the math I wanted to have some black males there. So I went to the black engineers' organization and they would come in and teach the math portion. And then I just had some teacher friend women who taught English and so forth, and they'd come in and do the language part. And we did that on Saturdays to help kids pass that exam. Some of my kids, my, my children, my very own children, their friends couldn't get their scholarships to college, to play ball or whatever it was they were about because they couldn't pass that SAT exam. And I thought, now, that is really a tragedy that an exam like this is keeping them from being a recipient of a scholarship. So every time I found a kind of an area of need, I've kind of wedged myself in there in some sort of way and tried to give back by using my either influence or my skill or my talent. And it's mostly been directed at, at black youth. My husband is the same way. He has always helped me or started his own endeavor to kind of--so, so that's been our focus. I, I think we realized we've been fortunate, and we wanna share that and one of the ways we know we can do it is with young people. So we found ways to--I know my kids were, my very own children [Brent Jones and Dana Jones Walker], again, were--we were trying to find something to do one Saturday and looked in the newspaper, and there was a track meet going on, all-city track meet. So I said, "Oh, let's go look." So we got in the car and we went to the track meet, and it just so happened, it was an open meet that day, and kids could run. You didn't have to be in a club. So mine got out there and ran and they dusted everybody. And it was like, they didn't even have the right stuff on or anything, and they came over and said, "Who, who's their coach? Who, who did they run for?" Well, we weren't running for anybody. And so, so my husband said--there were some kids who wanted to run, and he bought 'em track outfits and, you know, and organized them, the South Central Athletic Association. And my kids ran their way right on through the university. I mean they got scholarships on track and, and my daughter set a, a national record in the 4 x 100, you know, relay, and I--you know, and that just, was happenstance. So, so when, when Joe [Joe Jones] started the South Central Athletic Association, me, as an educator, thought, okay, this is an opportunity for kids to learn too. So you had to come into the portable and read for an hour before you could go out and run on the track. So I got a couple of other friends, and we brought library books and we'd read--I said, let's make this a, you know, read and run kind of deal. And so it just, you know, it's just finding ways to, to nurture our kids, and that's kind of what I've been about, really been my thrust in life.$$Now, what year is the South Central Athletic Association in?$$It's still in existence, and it must have started in--let's see. My kids graduated, in the '90s [1990s], in the early '90s [1990s].$$Okay.$$And it's still in existence today.$$Okay, and just for the record here, your husband was a, he was a fair athlete at--$$Right, uh-huh.$$--University of Washington [Seattle, Washington].$$Right, he's always been an athlete.$$Played in the Rose Bowl [Rose Bowl Game] and was (laughter)--$$Uh-huh, so--$$So, I mean they'd had a decent coach. He actually knew--$$Yeah.$$--what he was doing.$$Exactly. And then, and then we found out that kids--he went up to ski one day, and there were no blacks up there skiing. And he said, oh, we gotta get our kids to skiing up here on this mountain. This is too much fun. And he started the Four Seasons Northwest ski club, and you can talk to most any of the kids in the city who know how to ski, they learned through Joe's ski school. So it, it's just been one, you know, athletics, education, wherever we can see that we might have an impact. And I am so proud. I think I am proudest about my ability to have touched the lives of so many children than I am about anything, and, and being a parent. I, I love what I did as a parent with my own children.$Okay, now, do you have a thematic source for most of your poems? I mean what are your, what's your--is your theme mostly family or what?$$I don't know that it's mostly family. It's just appreciating life, just as positive as I can get about life in general. That one poem I have 'Life is Sweet' [Mona Lake Jones], "It's like a dish of warm, berry pie with fresh cream melting on the top, tasting so good you have to tell yourself to stop. Woo, life is so sweet." And it goes on about the sweetness of life. That, that's kind of what I, I write about. So much of what I write about is positive, but it tells the story of being colored black in America, you know, all kinds of situations and so there are some trials and tribulations, of course, 'cause that's a part of who we are. But I really try to look at the positive side of our culture and just really appreciate who we are. I always say, "When you're feeling a little uncomfortable, when you're feeling down, and when you're feeling alone, reach back and get you some culture." And I tell people, you know, just wallow in your culture. It makes you feel good. And don't ever let anybody tell you, you're culturally deprived. One day somebody said that, and I was surprised at them.$$Well, so many people don't know about it or don't use it, you know, or like we said before, assume they know all it is to know about it because they are black. It's nothing they have to read or (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Um-hm, but I--$$--no new people they have to associate it with, but--$$Right, but when I celebrate that, oh, it makes people happy. I mean when I talk about our blackness and how wonderful it is and all the, the kinds of things that, that tell who we are, people get excited about it. They clap, they laugh, they find value in it, they find association with it. So that when I talk to groups and I'm celebrating African American culture, they really find joy in that. There's this one piece that I wrote about brothers. And it talks about how wonderful black men are 'cause, you know, very often, the only time they're celebrated is if, they're athletes and, you know, superstars, and very often that which is in the newspapers is negative and positi- you know, about what they're, they've done that's not good. And so I wrote a piece just to celebrate them. And I'm telling you, every time I do that in an audience, men come up and they hug me and they thank me, and, you know, it's this, like--and I went to the barbershop 'cause it was round about, "One morning I went to the barbershop, and it was round about ten o'clock. And I just happened to walk by, and I looked in, and there were brothers of all ages sitting, waiting in line, each one of them I would describe as fine. I don't mean fine 'cause they were short, tall or thin. I mean these were just genuinely handsome, black men, that love and strength that showed in their eyes, and you knew for some years of living had made them wise," ['Brothers,' Mona Lake Jones]. And it goes on about, you know, the brothers in the barbershop, just positive things. And the same way with that 'Sisters' piece ['A Room Full of Sisters,' Mona Lake Jones]. And then I acknowledge the fact that we have had, you know, many issues in our lives as, as blacks, as African Americans. And we've overcome them, and we continually do so. And there's always hope, and there's always the positive. And if we keep those positive things about who we are in our heads and have pictures of them, then it helps us be kind of better human beings.