"Chairman Jones" Film Screening and Community Dialogue Held in Charlotte
Monday, March 26, 2018
Wildacres Leadership Initiative’s screening and community discussion of the award-winning NC documentary Chairman Jones – An Improbable Leader at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte on March 22 was an event people didn’t want to leave. Moderator Steve Crump took more questions from the audience even after the event ran later than expected, and the discussion continued in the aisles and lobby.
Filmmaker Anna Jones traveled to the event from Durham and chatted with guests at a pre-event reception in addition to joining the panel of local Charlotte residents. The panel and audience discussed how the film resonated in the urban Charlotte of today despite being set in rural North Carolina of decades ago. It was the model of leadership and working across difference that was the need then and remains the need now – in all too many settings.
For those who missed the event, WLI is pleased to share the program, the pictures, and a link to the film currently available on UNC-TV. Chairman Jones – An Improbable Leader is approximately 57 minutes long. It tells the story of James Henry Jones, a self-educated farmer who emerges as a trailblazer during the 1969 school desegregation crisis sparked when Northampton County, North Carolina refuses to implement the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 decision to fully integrate the public schools. After freeing himself from Jim Crow sharecropping in the 1950s, Jones launches a personal campaign to free black children from Jim Crow education. He places his own children on the front lines, brings blacks and whites together for dialogue, and helps integration tip toe into Northampton, transforming the educational landscape for everyone. His leadership as North Carolina’s First Black School Board Chairman introduces a new era in education and has a marked effect on racial progress in the State.
Born on a former slave plantation in 1916, Jones died in 1984, the year that the Northampton County school system received accreditation for the first time in its history, largely due to his vision and efforts. His story unfolds through his daughter Anna's conversations with those who participated in the integration movement and witnessed his extraordinary courage and leadership including Bill Friday.
This event was a part of WLI's ongoing effort to take the leadership development, teachings, and content of the Friday Fellowship out to more people in the state of North Carolina. Providing the links above is another way for you to do the same and share the Friday Fellowship with your networks. Please watch the film, and join the shared experience of seeing how this NC leader persevered and worked across many differences throughout his life.