Ms. Jones Reflects on Her Experiences in Segregated Howard County

Ms. Jones Reflects on Her Experiences in Segregated Howard County

Misbah Farooqi, 2015-2017 Editor-in-Chief

It’s often hard to remember that there was a time when Howard County was segregated, but Wilde Lake substitute, Ms. Jones, vividly remembers that time.

Growing up in Howard County in the 1950s, Ms. Jones, a well-known and charismatic substitute teacher at Wilde Lake, lived during a time of segregation and as a young girl, was forced to grapple with the reality of inequality and intolerance.

At the time, she was districted to attend Guilford Elementary, which was the local public school for black children. However, her parents wanted to send her to the local all-white Catholic school, St. Augustine, where she enrolled in the first grade in 1955.

While the pastor at her Catholic elementary school was tolerant enough to let her attend, not everyone was as welcoming.

“A week after riding the bus, the bus driver handed me an envelope and said ‘make sure you give this to your parents.’ After that, I remember that I wasn’t riding the bus anymore,” she recalls of her experience of being forced off the bus.

Ms. Jones’ parents were told that since the buses weren’t integrated, she wasn’t allowed to ride on it. As a result, she was forced to take the cab to school everyday.

Her experiences in the classroom, however, were better. She recalled that the students in her first grade class did not treat her any differently and were always eager to play, as most six year olds are. Most of the school staff were also accepting of her, as they were mostly nuns and priests whose religious beliefs did not accept segregation.

The next year, Ms. Jones was able to ride the bus again, but her encounters with segregation continued.

In 1957, when Ms. Jones was in third grade, her class went on a field trip to a local park in Baltimore. However, since it was a segregated park, she was unable to attend the field trip.

At the time, she did not understand why her teacher had told her to stay home instead, but once she grew older, she recognized that it was because of her skin color.

Ms. Jones wasn’t alone in her experiences, as over 7000 African American children were enrolled in Howard County schools. Howard County schools were not desegregated until after 1965, with that year marking the closing of Harriet Tubman high school.

Of her experiences, Ms. Jones says she was never embittered by what she went through and believes that integration has worked in some aspects.

“I am happy that today’s generation takes people for who they are and looks past race. I am glad to live in a county that has evolved,” said Ms. Jones.