Inspiring Women Who Changed my World
By Dr Stephen Jones During this Women’s History month, I am celebrating African American/African women educators and innovators. My mother Elder Eleanor Jones was my first educator and woman in my life. Her strong faith and belief that anything is possible changed my life forever. She always expected me to go to college and to do something substantial with my life. She encouraged my involvement in the local community and it became a passion. My wife Adele Jones has always encouraged me and expected the best from me. Subsequently there have been many women who have told me what I can do. I’ve been honored with the opportunity to help thousands of K12 and college students to reach their career goals. My K12 teachers saw something in me and gave me the education and discipline that I needed too. I am forever in these woman’s debt. I was able to experience Black history every day in my classrooms and in the community. There was always African American woman that cared more about others than themselves. I know that k12 teachers really cared and loved their profession so much that they made it a career. When I was in K12, some teachers taught for 30 and 40 years. They would teach brothers and sisters from the same family. I witnessed this when my brother who was several years older than me had Mrs. Martin as his teacher too. Our elementary school was a block away from home and it made sense to attend the same school. Things seemed to work out fine when your parents had a sincere commitment to meet with teachers and to talk with teachers about each son or daughter. I was taught to never give up on my dreams. I remember singing, “To be Young Gift and Black.” My African American college professors have been the courageous teachers who I met throughout my years as a professional. Some of my mentors have been Dr. Judith Thomas, Dr. Doreen Loury, Dr. Ewaugh Finney Fields and Cynthia Skipper. These women were trail blazers in higher education who opened college access to thousands of low income and first-generation college students. They understood that the number of African Americans women in leadership roles in higher education required a push-back when doors were not open. These women served as faculty and administrators who were also aware that the next generation of woman educators would continue to face obstacle throughout their career. African American women have always been available to offer words of wisdom and encouragement to young African American professionals. African American women are making history every day. They are becoming the first business owners, the first state judges, doctors, lawyers and financial analyst. There are no limits regarding what an African American woman can accomplish when they move forward in spite of a lack of resources. Many African American women have started organizations because they see the need in the community. When mothers were faced with children who were losing their lives in Philadelphia, they started Mothers in Charge to address the needs of families who were suffering from trauma. The sororities like Delta Sigma Theta Incorporate and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Incorporated have programs for young women that support their education aspirations and offer scholarships to college bound students. African American woman simply make things better by using all their gifts and talents for the betterment of others who surround them. Although many public schools no longer offer Science Technology Engineering and math (STEM) activities, art and dance, African American women are filling the gaps. Children and young people value the opportunity to visually display their gifts and talents. They hold performances throughout the years in different sections of the city. One of the most important things that young women need is an experience that is not in their local community. That is what African American women are doing. They have made history come alive for me every day and for that I am truly grateful.