Scipio A. Jones Alumni Reflects on the Struggles of Integration, Notable Past

Aleya Kennedy and Brianna Young

Most Arkansans are familiar with the history of school integration; the story of the Little Rock Nine at Central High in 1957 may come to mind immediately. However, not too long after Central, Scipio A. Jones High School, formerly located in North Little Rock, 

also integrated in 1970.  Originally named and established in 1909 as the Argenta Colored School, the school developed in 1917 for kindergarten through twelfth grade. It was renamed Scorpio A. Jones High School in 1928. Scipio A. Jones was known as an African American educator, lawyer, judge, philanthropist, and a Republican politician from Arkansas. 


On September 9th in 1957, six African American male students from Scipio A. Jones High School attempted to enter Ole Main: Eugene Edward Hill, Frank Herman Henderson, William Mack Henderson, Richard Lewis Lindsey, Gerald Allen Persons, and Harold Gene Smith. However, it was unsuccessful. In 1970 Jones High School closed and all students were redirected to North Little High School. 


Former Jones High boys’ basketball coach from 1964-1965, Russell Hawkins, still believes to this day that the integration process could have been handled differently. “I think integration was done wrong and that is what caused 100% of the problems in schools today,” Hawkins explained. “I think that integration should have started one grade at a time, starting with first grade. You know, in the first grade blacks and whites do what? They love each other, they don’t care nothing about color.” 


Integration’s purpose was to create a more equal and diverse environment for black and white students. Before integration, African American students’ treatment by the education system was unequal compared to white students. Scipio A. Jones alumni Lois Clemmons explains, “Jones High School students received second hand books. We never had new books, we got books from the white school that had pages torn out of them. We were provided a second hand education.” 


Unfortunately many students at Jones High believed that integration wouldn’t have the best outcome for them. “The planning that was done wasn’t done for our advantage. In a way they thought it was, because we were considered a secondary school because it wasn’t equal,” says alumni Caroline Hamilton-Myrie. Hamilton-Myrie expressed fear that the more things changed, the more it would stay the same. “If we weren’t treated equally before integration surely we wouldn’t be treated afterwards cause we weren’t wanted there,” says Hamilton-Myrie.


Journalism admire old Scipio A. Jones High School yearbooks.