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Interview with Curtis Jones, June 27, 2017

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:47 - Mandatory and voluntary integration

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Partial Transcript: I am Curtis Jones, superintendent of the Bibb County School System...

Segment Synopsis: Jones talks about how his parents' careers affected his upbringing. Jones recalls his experience in being one of the first black students to integrate into Sacred Heart Elementary. Jones relates his transition to Junior High School and talks about some of the friends he had growing up. Jones details the process of mandatory integration and his first days attending the newly integrated Griffin High School.

Keywords: Bibb County Public School District; Griffin High School; Sacred Heart Elementary School; Spaulding Junior High School; mandatory integration

00:08:31 - Griffin High School experience

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Partial Transcript: So I will tell you what my thoughts are...

Segment Synopsis: Jones describes the differences between voluntary and mandatory integration, and his experience with both. Jones recalls how his mother helped him with the transition to attending a white school. Jones mentions how his experience at Griffin High School had an impact on his future career. Jones talks about his decision to run for president of the student body at his school, and how he built a following among the students for his campaign.

Keywords: Fairmount High School; Griffin High School; Griffin-Spaulding County; Sacred Heart Elementary; Virginia Ball; mandatory integration; voluntary integration

00:15:57 - Football and the Army

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Partial Transcript: Athletics did that, and when...

Segment Synopsis: Jones talks about how his experience on Griffin High School's football team assisted him in gathering support for his student presidential campaign and also influenced his decision to go into the Army. Jones recalls how he came to attend West Point Military Academy. Jones mentions his friends in high school and how they impacted his high school experience.

Keywords: Air Force; Griffin High School; United States Military Academy West Point; military

00:22:09 - Integrating Griffin High School / Returning to Griffin

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Partial Transcript: Now, I'll tell you when there was competition...

Segment Synopsis: Jones recalls how the consolidation of the Griffin and Fairmount High School football teams spurred competition, as players from the historically black and white schools initially viewed each other as rivals. Jones talks about returning to Griffin, Georgia after graduating from West Point Military Academy and how he came to lead the ROTC branch at Griffin High School. Jones mentions how he became the first black principle of Griffin High.

Keywords: Fairmount High School; Griffin High School; Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC); competition; integration

00:29:32 - Becoming the Superintendent of the Griffin School System

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Partial Transcript: So when I joined the staff in '97...

Segment Synopsis: Jones relates how he rose from the position of ROTC leader to the position of principal of Griffin High School in 2005 to finally the position of Griffin Spalding Superintendent. Jones shares how he was received by the white staff at Griffin High School. Jones adds how his experience attending Griffin High School eased his experience of transitioning into the role as principal.

Keywords: Griffin High School; Walter Pyron; William Walker

00:36:09 - Administration issues

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Partial Transcript: And the principal who was going...

Segment Synopsis: Jones talks about how opening Spalding High School proved to be a contentious subject for the employees of Griffin High School. Jones relates an experience he had with an angry mother who felt threatened by the majority African American administration of Griffin High School. Jones mentions how he dealt with a problem among staff concerning dress code.

Keywords: Griffin High School; Spalding High School; Todd McGee; Walter Pyron

00:43:21 - Experience in the Army / Integration and merging

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Partial Transcript: So, in the military, I was an...

Segment Synopsis: Jones talks about his twenty year career in the military. Jones explains the process of merging the staff of Fairmount and Griffin High School. Jones emphasizes how creating separate schools for grades 6-8 assisted with the distribution of staff after mandatory integration. Jones shares how this integration method was also applied for the sports teams of Griffin High School.

Keywords: Albany State, Georgia; Fairmount High School; Fort Benning, Georgia; Fort Leavenworth; Germany; Griffin High School

00:51:20 - Family and career experiences

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Partial Transcript: Mom and Dad came from Texas...

Segment Synopsis: Jones talks about his upbringing and recalls his experiences visiting his grandparents. Jones talks about his family's history and his father's career in the army. Jones shares how his parents upheld their beliefs in the Civil Rights movement in their decision to allow him to integrate to Spalding Middle School. Jones relates some of the decisions he had to make as superintendent of the Griffin school system.

Keywords: Kiwanis Club of Griffin; Sacred Heart Elementary School; Texas; Trinity CME Church; University of Georgia

00:59:29 - Concluding thoughts

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Partial Transcript: Here's a story about Dr. Bradley...

Segment Synopsis: Jones recalls some of the interactions he had with Dr. Bradley, while trying to become the principal of Griffin High School. Jones shares how, despite his lack of formal education in the way of administration, he managed to make improvements in the Griffin school system.

Keywords: Dr. Bradley; Griffin, Georgia; education