An old photo recently resurfaced shows 14-year-old Jerry Jones in a crowd of white students trying to deny access to six black students at North Little Rock High School.
The event occurred just a few weeks before the Little Rock Nine integrated Little Rock Central High School less than five miles away in what turned out to be one of the most important moments in the civil rights movement.
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To a lesser extent, this group of black students is known as the North Little Rock Six.
Two years earlier, the North Little Rock school board voted to integrate classes for seniors, but then-Arkansas Governor Orval E. Faubus was largely opposed. Despite Faubus’s beliefs, six students tried to get into the school, but with no luck.
On September 9, 1957, Richard Lindsey, Gerald Persons, Harold Smith, Eugene Hall, Frank Henderson, and William Henderson attempted to enter the school despite being pushed and dozens of white students blocking their entrance. The six students eventually enrolled in a different school based on the advice of the district superintendent.
North Little Rock High School was officially integrated seven years later.
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Jones has acknowledged that it is him in the photograph, but says he did not participate in the integration protest and looked on curiously and without animosity.
“I don’t know if I or anyone anticipated or had a history of knowing … what was involved,” said Jones, now 80. through the daily mail. “It was more of a curious thing.”
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Jones also noted that his football coach at the time told his players to avoid hysteria, but the now owner of the Dallas Cowboys did not. He graduated from North Little Rock in 1960.