'Chairman Jones: An Improbable Leader'

Gardner-Webb Hosts Free Screening of Award-Winning Historical Documentary

Chairman Jones: An Improbable Leader

In 1969, a trailblazer emerged during a desegregation crisis in Northampton County, N.C. James Henry Jones, a black farmer with a seventh-grade education, led integration efforts and became the first black school board chairman in North Carolina. A documentary about his work, made by his daughter, filmmaker Anna Jones, will be shown at Gardner-Webb University Oct. 15.

The free screening of “Chairman Jones: An Improbable Leader” is co-sponsored by Wildacres Leadership Initiative as part of its William C. Friday Fellowship for Human Relations curriculum. The program is open to the public and begins at 6:30 p.m. in Tucker Student Center. Doors open at 6 p.m. for a reception, and a panel discussion afterward will feature his daughter, along with local leaders and educators.

“This documentary is about a rural North Carolina county moving forward through differences of race, power, and resources with a unique leader who stepped up when no one else was willing,” observed Hunter Corn, interim executive director of Wildacres Leadership Initiative. “It is also a daughter’s story learning about her father's unheralded leadership.”

The film has won numerous awards nationally and internationally, including the audience choice award at the Real to Reel International Film Festival in Cleveland County, N.C. The historical account unfolds as Anna talks with those who participated in the integration movement and witnessed her father’s extraordinary courage to transform the educational landscape in his county.

Joining Anna for the panel discussion will be Friday Fellow Karla Haynes, the executive director of the Cleveland County Community Development Corporation, the GWU Dean of Education Prince Bull, and Gardner-Webb Adjunct Professor of Communication Studies Noel Manning. The discussion will be moderated by Tom Hanchett, previous staff historian for 16 years at Levine Museum of the New South. The group will take questions and comments from the audience.

Auxiliary aids will be made available to persons with disabilities upon request 48 hours prior to the event. Please call 704-406-4270 or email disabilityservices@gardner-webb.edu with your request.

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