Jones, Needham

Before integration, the schools were one of the many public facilities that were segregated. Needham Jones was the principal at the black school known as Locker High School. Even though this school was called a high school, it contained all grades, starting from kindergarten to 12th grade. The classes taught at Locker High were Math, Social Studies, and English.

Jones served in the Tuskegee airman platoon, graduated from Alcorn State University with his Bachelors degree, received his Masters degree from the Tuskegee University, and his E.E.D. from the University of Oklahoma.
Jones stressed to the black kids and their parents how education was important and valuable. He is a firm believer in education because in his immediate family, his wife was a school teacher that taught typing, his first daughter is a successful attorney, his first son is a teacher at South Pike and a Major in the army, and the second and third daughters are twins and they are both successful nurses.

While serving as principal, Jones mentioned how he helped the black boys stay in school. Some black parents at the time had to pull their children out of school so the child could help the family by getting a job. Jones sometimes paid some of the children to stay in school and gave them clothes. There was a cafeteria with free food so the children were fed. Many of Jones’ former students indicated how they would not have succeeded if it were not for “Prop Jones”being there to motivate them. Robert Vanderbilt, one of Jones’ former students, recalls how during those days “teachers had a passion for the students.””He motivated and pushed us,”said Vanderbilt, and “I would not be where I am today if it were not for ‘Prop Jones’.”

Needham Jones was demoted from principal to assistant principal of the newly integrated Stone High School. Jones explained that during integration his position was compromised for assistant principal, but he was more qualified than the principal. Jones filed a lawsuit. He won the lawsuit, but did not take the position as principal of Stone County High School because he retired.

Sources:

Interview with Robert Vanderbilt, a former Locker High graduate.

Interview, Needham Jones, principal of the Locker High School