Peter's Tribute to His Parents

The posting below is from the Facebook page of Peter Jones:

     Peter Jones

Peter P. Jones

Yesterday at 11:50am

LIFE LESSONS: While having dinner with my sister, Rachel Jones, in Nairobi last week, I jokingly said that the only two inheritances we got from our parents - Lewis and Eloise Jones - were our good skin and our sharp intellect! And, I said, that obviously was enough, since now we were having dinner in Nairobi, Kenya! lol

It made me think of one thing that everyone in our family has to give thanks for: Eloise Jones' insistence on getting the best education possible for her children. Now, to my knowledge she never asked any of us to see our homework, never set with any of us going over homework, never insisted on seeing our report cards, or scolded us for any grade we ever got on a report card. Never challenged us to to achieve or accomplish anything.

Hell...when I was graduating from high school and choosing which college to go to, she never asked when I took the ACT or SAT test, didn't offer advice or opinion about any particular college, didn't offer to take me on any college tours, didn't ask me what schools I was considering, didn't even hint at the idea that I might ask them for any money (I knew better and never even considered that as a possibility!). Although I'm sure she knew my choice before I got on that bus to Naperville that early morning in August 1972, I do not remember ever having a heart to heart discussion about the options and choices I was going through at that time with either parent (of course, I didn't have a heart to heart discussion with ANYONE, but, that's just me! lol). No. What Eloise and Lewis Jones made clear to us at every turn was that they expected our best from us...always.... and it was up to us to deliver it. She expected us to deliver our best, just as she delivered for us when it was important.

Because, you see, being of a "certain age", I grew up in the segregated south...a small town in Southern Illinois, which, in the 1950's and 1960's, might as well have been just outside Hattiesberg, Mississippi. All the schools were segregated in Cairo until 1966. Everything in the town was segregated until 1970.....they eventually closed the public pool and movie theater rather then have them integrated. Cairo was a hot point of racial unrest and rioting from 1968 - 1974. But, because my mother knew the importance of education, she was not having her children go to a segregated high school. She knew "separate" was not equal..and she wanted better for us in preparation for college. She knew what she wanted for our future.

So, in 1960, wrapping her head up as she always did (extensions and weaves were NOT in! lol), she went down to the local school board in her best house dress, demanded to see the superintendent and demanded that her children go to the "white" high school. "Demanded" might be too strong of a word. This took some nerve. This was the "Jim Crow" south, after all, and during that time black folks making demands had a way of disappearing. But, she was insistent and persistent. And Eloise Jones could be very insistent. And from that insistence, starting in 1960, David Jones went to the "white" high school....and John Jones went in 1962...and Julie (Jones) Newell went in 1964 .... and Fred Jones went in 1966 and I in 1968. And, although it was never said, it was known that we had better not embarrass her! And we didn't...starting with David earning Valedictorian honors when he graduated (but, having it withheld at the ceremony because he was black) little old me, being President of the Student Council, National Honor Society, school newspaper and class.

But what this all says to me is that, whereas the big things are important.....its the little things that parents do that make the difference. Just being there and being concerned. And stepping in to make a difference when we as children had no idea of what it meant. And, although I would have liked my inheritance to be a "small loan of a million dollars" like Donald Trump got from his parents when he went out in the world.... I got Eloise Jones' insistence, instead. That and her skin and intellect. I'll take that.