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Son of activist journalist talks about father’s views

Imagine a black activist in the 1960s opposed to government programs, church leaders, the black power movement, integration and the civil rights movement.

That was Norman E. Jones, producer of the first black radio show in Tampa. He also edited the black pages of the St. Petersburg Times and wrote a column for various black papers across Florida titled “Let’s talk politics.”

Norman Jones II, who follows in his father’s footsteps, came to the USF Tampa Library on Friday to speak about the legacy of his father.

According to Jones II, his father was a bit of an outsider. Integrationists called him a troublesome voice and presence. Conservative whites called him a hero, and liberal whites called him a copout working for personal gain.

His father called himself “a one-man crusade who used his supposed intellect as a lance to joust with.”

“My father’s views were not popular, but he never bit his tongue,” Jones II said. “He always spoke his mind.”

Jones’ father said blacks should strive for economic independence and not ask for government programs or emphasize black power.

“People don’t get any power off being black,” Jones’ father said. “Political power and everything else in this country boils down to dollars and cents.”

Jones also disliked black preachers.

“(They) were like people who sell dope,” Jones said. “They offer an immediate but short-lived solution.”

Norman E. Jones was fundamentally opposed to the civil rights movement and integration.

“The civil rights movement was started by blacks who wanted to get away from the masses, not by the masses,” he said. “Integration causes blacks to lose their identity.”

He also said the civil rights movement made blacks entitled to something they had not worked for.

Jones II does not agree with everything his father believed in, but said he agrees with his father’s views on the civil rights movement and integration.

“Integration was not everything it was supposed to be,” he said. “Before integration we had about 90 percent of black students graduating high school – compare that now to less than 70 percent.”

Adetokunbo Borishade, a graduate student in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, echoes Jones II’s views on integration.

“We have lost too many of our defining points in order to be integrated,” she said. “Education was for the purpose of developing independent thinkers – that was certainly Mr. Jones,” Boishade said. “Whether you agree with him or not, you have to respect him for it.”