Posted on December 1, 2022

Why the Photo of Jerry Jones at Little Rock Can’t Be Ignored

Ja'han Jones, MSNBC, November 28, 2022

The Washington Post published a photo last week of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones standing with a racist mob when he was a teenager in Arkansas in 1957.

As the Post reported:

On the first day of classes at North Little Rock High, a crew-cut sophomore named Jerral Wayne Jones found his spot among a phalanx of White boys who stood at the front entrance and blocked the path of six Black students attempting to desegregate the school.

Jones told the Post he only showed up that day to observe what was going on (he made the same claim to ESPN), but the Post explains why that seems implausible:

[The] photographs indicate Jones had to scurry around the North Little Rock Six to reach the top of the stairs before the Black students completed their walk up to the schoolhouse door. And while Jones offered a common explanation of the confrontation — that it was the work of older white supremacists — most of those surrounding the six young Black men were teenagers.

These revelations are offered as evidence of Jones’ history with racism in an article largely focused on his failure to hire a Black head coach throughout his decadeslong tenure as the Cowboys’ owner.


{snip} Every historical snapshot of white bigots denigrating Black people has a foreground and a background. In the foreground, we often see the most vicious racists in the group, eager to put their names and faces to their behavior. In the background, we often see people who are complicit: They may be less willing to engage in the racist acts themselves, but they’re apparently happy to stand idly by as bigots do dirty deeds on their behalf.

At best, and assuming you believe his explanation, Jones appears to be in the latter group: weak people who accept America’s racist social hierarchy. And that character flaw is useful to know when considering Jones’ failure to hire a Black head coach.