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Chairman Jones: An Improbable Leader -- Free Film Screening and Panel Discussion
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Chairman Jones: An Improbable Leader -- Free Film Screening and Panel Discussion

Free film and panel discussion of the North Carolina documentary "Chairman Jones: An Improbable Leader." Join Gardner-Webb University, Wildacres Leadership Initiative, and filmmaker Anna Jones as she shares her inspiring and award-winning film about leadership, faith, untold stories of success in the rural South, and the amazing work of her father -- a black farmer with a 7th grade education -- who incredibly became the first black North Carolina school board chairman.

When: Monday, October 15, 2018
Where: Gardner-Webb University, Tucker Student Center
131 Tucker Drive
Boiling Springs, North Carolina 
Contact: Hunter Corn

Online registration is closed.
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Join us for an evening of film, food, and fellowship

Doors open at 6:00pm for reception and seating

All are invited to a free screening of the award-winning North Carolina documentary Chairman Jones—An Improbable Leader, which 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.

After the screening

A moderated dialogue with panelists: director and narrator of the film, Anna Jones, local Friday Fellow Karla Haynes, Gardner-Webb adjunct professor Noel Manning, and new GWU Dean of Education Prince Bull will take questions and comments from the audience. Together, we will reflect on how this story of citizen leadership, faith, and working within and outside of unequal systems, can all provide individual and collective leadership models for change right now.


Let's come together - educators, parents, students, and community members - to enjoy a beautiful film about the difference one man made because he decided to.

“I discovered a movement of a people from segregation to cooperation around education for the children of Northampton County.” --  Anna Jones, Director

“Given those stresses and given those tensions, invariably there rises up in that kind of situation some individual, some groups of people who say, 'We've got to move forward.'” --  Bill Friday, former President of the UNC System, as interviewed in the film


The William C. Friday Fellowship for Human Relations is a leadership development opportunity for North Carolinians who wish to positively impact their communities through leadership grounded in honest and civil dialogue aimed at abating gridlock, improving human relations, and advancing a just democracy.  This film is a part of the 2017-2019 Friday Fellowship curriculum.  As a part of the effort to provide more Fellowship training to all North Carolinians, the Fellowship's parent organization, Wildacres Leadership Initiative, is pleased to bring this filmmaker and film about North Carolina leadership to the community.

Panelist Bios

Anna Jones is an executive consultant with the Sable Consulting Group, a management consulting firm located in Villanova, Pennsylvania. She is also an award- winning, first-time documentary filmmaker.   Following a corporate management career at IBM Corporation, she immersed herself in art studies at North Carolina Central University and Duke University, including the Center for Documentary Studies.  Anna resides in Durham, NC  where she is a member of The Southern Documentary Fund, Durham Arts Council, Duke Chapel Advisory Board, and Durham Rotary Club.   She holds Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Business from North Carolina Central University with additional study at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY,  the American Institute for Managing Diversity, Atlanta, GA  and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Karla Haynes is the Executive Director of the Cleveland County Community Development Corporation.  She received her undergraduate and MBA from Gardner-Webb University and was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2012.  Karla is also a William C. Friday Fellow from the class of 2006.  She was a recipient of the Z. Smith Reynolds Sabbatical in 2009.  Karla serves on the statewide board of the North Carolina Community Development Initiative in addition to several local boards and committees. 


Noel T. Manning II serves as the associate vice president for Marketing and Communications at Gardner-Webb University. Noel has been reviewing (and writing about) film, television, music and pop culture since 1989 for print, broadcast and online audiences. He is a voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, and the NC Film Critics Association, and he has worked on several award-winning film projects. He is the co-founder of the Real to Reel Film Fest, hosts a weekly movie review show for television and radio, and is an adjunct professor of Communication & New Media Studies at Gardner-Webb University.



Prince Bull is the new dean of the Gardner-Webb School of Education.  He most recently served as a professor of Curriculum and Instruction in the School of Education at North Carolina Central University. With over 25 years of leadership experience in both higher education and the public school system, Bull was recently awarded a grant by the UNC system to develop the first competency-based education (CBE) degree program in elementary education and middle grades education in the UNC system.

He is a Quality Matters certified peer reviewer and online facilitator. In 2012, he received the NCCU Teaching Excellence Award. Bull has authored Understanding Technology Integration to Prepare Millennial Students for 21st Century Education (2010), as well as numerous articles and other publications. In addition to a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Supervision and a Master of Education in Special Education from North Carolina Central University, he holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction from North Carolina State University.



Moderator Bio


Tom Hanchett is a community historian in Charlotte, NC, consulting with community groups and with Levine Museum of the New South.  Previously he served as Staff Historian for 16 years at Levine Museum where he curated the permanent exhibition Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers (named best in the Southeast by the South East Museums Conference), and a string of national-award-winning temporary exhibitions including COURAGE about the Carolina roots of the Brown v Board Civil Rights case. 


Tom’s writings range widely on urban history and Southern culture: a book about Charlotte’s neighborhoods, Sorting Out the New South City: Race, Class & Urban Development in Charlotte (UNC Press); an essay exploring the history of US shopping malls; a monthly newspaper column Food From Home; and more. Educated at Cornell University, University of Chicago, and UNC Chapel Hill, he plays fiddle.

Auxiliary aids will be made available to persons with disabilities upon request 48 hours prior to the event.  Please call 704-406-4264 or email with your request.


Please feel free to share the poster below.  Click here for the link.


Wildacres Leadership Initiative is connected with Wildacres Retreat, Little Switzerland, NC.