Black History Month: Laurel councilman remembers bad times - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Black History Month: Laurel councilman remembers bad times

LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - One of Laurel's longest sitting councilmen has lived through and even helped change the face of racism in Jones County.

Manual Jones was born in 1947, a time when segregation was alive and strong in much of the South. Laurel Ward Five Council Manual Jones said life was only in black and white.

"It was rough," he said. "Going in the back doors, and you couldn't go to restaurants to eat with white races. It was bad."

Jones said the pain of segregation formed his future. He helped register blacks to vote, attempt to eat inside several whites-only diners during the Civil Rights movement, and he continues to speak out against justice. In 1985 he served as Jones County NAACP president.

"During that time we had segregated water fountains that were at the Ellisville Courthouse that I marched around," said Jones.

"There were no black cheerleaders at Laurel or Jones County School Districts, so we has to address that. And then we had to fight an illegal school merger back in 1987."

And while taking up those issues, Jones said his life was threatened. Jones says the FBI later tracked down the individual and he was fined, but received no jail time. After serving as NAACP president for 8 years, in 1993 he ran for Ward Five councilman and won.

"As the president of the NAACP; I never did miss a council meeting," said Jones. "I saw where blacks were being hired on the police department. I saw were blacks weren't promoted in fire departments, and I wanted to be apart of getting that situation corrected."

Jones said Laurel, like the rest of America has come a long way, but the journey for equality still lives on.

Copyright 2009 WDAM. All rights reserved.

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