According to the WP, the Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has helped transformed the NFL over the years, except when it comes to race, and the publication is about how he used to be a White supremacist.
Throwback photos of Jerry Jones being among White boys “standing a few yards from where the six Black students were being jostled and repelled with snarling racial slurs by ringleaders of the mob” have also been published.
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.
In a photograph taken at the scene, Jones could be seen standing a few yards from where the six Black students were being jostled and repelled with snarling racial slurs by ringleaders of the mob. At one point, a Black student named Richard Lindsey recalled, someone in the crowd put a hand on the back of his neck. A voice behind him said, “I want to see how a nigger feels.” The ruffian hostility succeeded in turning away the would-be new enrollees.
The confrontation occurred 65 years ago, on Sept. 9, 1957, during the same month that a higher-profile integration effort was taking place at Little Rock Central High in the capital city a few miles away.
Jones said he was there only to watch, not participate. “I don’t know that I or anybody anticipated or had a background of knowing … what was involved. It was more a curious thing,” he said.
But Straeter’s 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.
That leads to the issues of race and power and the plight of Black coaches in a game where a preponderance of players are Black yet there are only three Black full-time head coaches. If the NFL is to improve its woeful record on the hiring, promotion and nourishment of Black coaches, Jones could lead the way.
His record in key appointments has been deficient. In his 33 years as owner, Jones has had eight head coaches, all White.
Black men who have worked for Jones felt free to discuss his strengths and blind spots without fear of retribution, a sign that he was open to critiques and willing to listen. They said he has evolved. He puts it differently, saying the issue has gained intensity — with him and throughout the league. Now, he says, when it comes to diversity, “I want to be the first in line.”
Jones’s responses to questions about that seminal event 6½ decades ago fit a pattern that revealed itself again in his dealings with the issue of Black coaches. He is an enthralling storyteller but also a master of deflection, so absorbed in his own success story that he tends to filibuster and evade when questions get too close to a racial reckoning.
He did not see what Black people in his community saw. The Black effigy hanging from a lamppost near the schoolhouse steps the next morning. The posse of cuffed-jeans students who belted out “Dixie” as Black students passed by on the way to their segregated school across town. The 12-foot wood-and-tar-paper cross that flickered on a hillside within sight of the football team as it warmed up for its home opener. And, two months later, the swarm of White boys who descended from the high school steps, shouted “Let’s get her!” and pelted Willie Russell Cole, a 58-year-old Black maid, with icy snowballs and smeared her face in the snow as she tried to walk home.
Flip to the next page to see young Jerry Jones in the midst of White boys blocking six Black students…