As the inaugural Reginald L. Jones Senior Fellow, and the daughter of a community leader who served Indianapolis, there are expectations from a generation of people who put in groundbreaking work championing an equitable experience. Dad was known for his unparalleled determination, commitment to the people and ability to speak up and speak out when holding the microphone or while fighting injustice, warring for education parity and stressing the importance of health & wellness as the sole representative in closed-door meetings. There was a general understanding and confidence in knowing that Reggie Jones would advocate for the people if he were in the room.
In the year since his transition, the community has found its way to the hollowed halls of grief and shared vivid stories of care and compassion with the vitality needed to help make it through the tough days. Levels of pride and honor flanked the stories surrounding his time as the Indianapolis Skills Center Director. The best description outside of Dad conveyed was, “Reggie was culturally Black and community-focused,” influencing transformational change. As the first Black Director of a multimillion-dollar state-funded program, Dad structured the Skills Center as an educational mecca for the unemployed and underemployed. When persons completed training, theyhad the skill, aptitude and certification to be assets to themselves and the community.
It is this, the lingering influence that continues to make space, that was the beauty and genius of Reggie Jones; he was an underestimated overachiever. Then and now, people have always wondered with amazement.
Nevertheless, there is no denying the privilege of toiled soil, so it will not be denied. Still, there is much work to do to ensure a more equitable Indiana and a more knowledgeable community, with the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren at the helm contributing in ways that fortify Jones’s legacy and continue the work.
Initially, there was reluctance to take up the mantle, like most children whose parents are determined to make a change or give freely of themselves to ensure others have and have the right to. Then there is the presentation of thought in the Indianapolis Recorder, the fourth oldest Black publication in the nation. Alone, the mounted pressure of being a legacy can make one reticent or surrender in a defiant stance. But an alternative approach enlisted start with gratitude. It is hard to be an imposter or self-sabotage when a thank you fills the jaws and rolls off lips.
Today is the first week of a ten-week fellowship; Reginald L. Jones’s fellow starts with a thank you as the initial contribution. Thank you to the Indianapolis public for loving the Jones family. Thank you for your stories, smiles and hugs. You have kept his legacy alive. You have transmitted the mental fortitude and strength to guide each member to their posts. Reggie Jones belonged to the people—as the Reginald L. Jones Fellow, this column will unfurl issues and concerns of the Black community while at the same time illuminating the brilliance of people, The Black Experience. Over the next weeks, the contributions to the Indianapolis Recorder will be in the areas of Health/Wellness, Education, Music, Art and Culture. An old friend, Mari Evans, once informed all to Speak the Truth to The People, which is this fellowship’s mission. Feel free to call and share if there is a topic or community concern outside the above scope. A weekly podcast and poem will be posted on the website as an additive. The podcasts will dive deeper into each story and present a multi-medium approach.
I am my father’s child, a
Tasha Jones is an author, poet, educator, researcher, and Ph.D.(c). She is the Reginald L. Jones Fellow and is currently completing a manuscript entitled PYRAMIDS. PLANTATIONS. PROJECTS.
PENITENTIARIES. All social media @iamtashajones.