Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Mack H. Jones, July 15, 1994

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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PRESTAGE: --Political Science Association Oral History Project with Professor Mack H. Jones, Atlanta, Georgia, July 15th, 1994. This is tape one. I'm Jewel Prestage.

BARKER: And I'm Twiley Barker.

PRESTAGE: Professor Jones, it is a pleasure to talk with you today as a part of the oral history project of the American Political Science Association. Would you be kind enough, if you don't mind, to tell me something about your personal background? That is, where you were born, uh, where you attended elementary and secondary school, a little bit about your family and childhood.


JONES: Okay. I was born in Oakdale, Louisiana, which is a town of about seven, eight thousand people. That's in central Louisiana. I went to grade school and high school in Oakdale. The, uh, first grade I went to a one-room schoolhouse, uh, that served first through third grade, and then elementary school on the other side of town, and high school. They were all black, in the days of segregation in the schools. My- -I'm the fourth child of ten children. Um, my father was a laborer by day, and a minister on the weekends, and, uh, my mother had finished normal school and taught school until the children came.


PRESTAGE: You then are a native of central Louisiana and, uh, you are from a large family.

JONES: That's true.

PRESTAGE: All right. Uh, that makes you similar to some other political scientists. (laughs)

JONES: Some I know well.

PRESTAGE: I know. All right. In your elementary, uh, school, and your high school experiences, were you ever taught by your mother?

JONES: No, not really. As a matter of fact, my mother quit teaching before I was born. She quit teaching after the first, uh, or second child came.

PRESTAGE: Were there any major experiences in your elementary or secondary school days that helped to shape your view of the world, your 00:03:00values, your sense of self and the like?

JONES: Yeah, I suppose so, although I don't know right now exactly what they were. But, um, I remember people being very helpful. We were a large family, not much money, and there were a lot of folk in the community were helpful to us which I think sort of predisposed me to at least want to have service as a part of my life. Um, my father always had a very strong sense of race, pride, fight, and struggle. He was always fighting with the white people in Oakdale so I think a lot of that impacted my life. And I think a lot of things I tried to do resulted from a kind of, uh, a training that I got. A lot of things happened in the school system, uh, things that were both positive and pushed me, and things that were negative that, in a sense, pushed me 00:04:00also. I remember, uh, really being unhappy with the way the white people superintended the schools. The white woman would come in as a visiting teacher and we'd be put on display to really perform for her and that always rankled me a little bit. Uh, um, the, uh, principal was someone who was pretty accommodating toward white folk and that always, we always had little games to try to push him to do things that, uh, would, uh, persuade him, we thought, to take a more forceful stand. Uh, and of course that meant that we stayed in trouble with him and so we learned how, learned how to try to, on the one hand, push things we wanted pushed without, uh, antagonizing the principal too much, uh, suffering the consequences. But I think all those things kind of structured my view of the world and our place in it.


PRESTAGE: You indicated that your father was a minister. To what extent was, uh, the church an influence in your life, and if not an influence, an experience in your life?

JONES: It was both an influence and a spirit. Uh, we had to go to church all the time. Uh, we went to church on Sunday, Sunday school, then regular eleven o'clock service, youth service in the afternoon, and my father would also make us go to the business meeting which was, I think, on Monday. Class meeting on Tuesday. Then there was prayer meeting on Wednesday or Thursday. So we spent a lot of time in the church and, um, I think a sense of right and wrong, sense of justice, sense of struggle were all imparted by the church so, uh, I think the 00:06:00church was a very important part of my coming up.

PRESTAGE: What, uh, childhood experiences would you say influenced your decision to go to college and on to go into higher education as, uh, life's profession?

JONES: Well I don't know if there's any one experience. Um, my father and mother both always took the position that they wanted us to have a better life than they had, and that to make that possible, we had to be educated and so [telephone rings] my father's position was that as long as you stayed in school and made good grades, it was his job to look out for you. If, for some reason, you didn't stay in school, then you had to get out and get a job on your own.

BARKER: Well, it appears, Mack, that there was strong motivation from 00:07:00family in terms of moving to higher education. It was generally expected that you would do that, is that correct?

JONES: That's correct.

BARKER: Uh, I think before we go any further, could you tell us a little something about the nature of your high school, uh, preparation for college? Uh, its strengths, its weaknesses?

JONES: Well, I guess at the time, I didn't have much of a sense of it one way or the other, but as I look back on it, uh, I think we were well prepared in arts and languages, uh, probably in math at that time. But we had very little equipment in the sciences. I remember when we first got test tubes in the biology program and chemistry program, so the science program was very limited. But, uh, I think the teachers 00:08:00were, for the most part, really conscientious and they may not have had the credentials that we may look for now but my recollection is that they were all really well prepared and effective people, so, um, when I left high school, I didn't go directly into, uh, college. I went into the Army. But I found that I was as well prepared as most other young people I met in the Army. There's an interesting story about, uh, why I went in the Army and didn't go directly to college. We didn't have any money, that was the main thing, but Southern University would come around and give this, uh, test and they would award scholarships to bright kids. The scholarships would be announced at the commencement-- class night, or whatever. And it turned out that Southern had, in fact, selected me as, uh, one of the scholars but I had had a run-in with the 00:09:00principal for something that was probably my fault and so the principal just chose not to, in fact, let me know. And I was in the Army and Southern got in contact with my father and wanted to know if I were coming or what. And it was at that time that we found out that I had, in fact, been given a scholarship but, uh, but any rate, I never had any reason to think that our preparation was not, uh, competitive.

BARKER: Was there any teacher in your high school who took a particular interest in you, or who left an indelibly--indelible impression on you in terms of your future in higher education?

JONES: Well, not quite except there was a teacher who had, I think, uh, major impact on me but not so much in terms of higher education 00:10:00but--and this was the guy who was the biology teacher and the coach--I think Jewel knows him, I don't know if you know him or not, Robin Bradley, who was, uh, who finished at Southern. But, uh, uh, he came from a family similar to my own and he and all of his siblings had gone off to Southern and taken degrees, and he always made it clear that that was the possibility. And, uh, he was pretty demanding which means that, uh, we were not allowed to slough off on things. And I always remembered that and I appreciated that, but, uh, I don't know if that had any direct impact on my decision to go because I think I was committed to trying to go as long as I can remember.

BARKER: Usually at that stage of the game, people around start inquiring, well, what, uh, profession are you going to go to? What do 00:11:00you wanna be in life, and at least that's kicked around a bit in your discussions, and I imagine that it probably confronted you somewhere along the way, and, uh, what was your attitude about a, a career, um, a vocation in life at that time?

JONES: Always wanted to be a journalist. As a matter of fact, when I was a kid, I used to do my own newspaper. I would do the newspaper. I would make up the baseball scores and stuff, and that's what I always wanted to do. As a matter of fact, when I got to, to, uh, uh, Southern, um, they didn't have a program in journalism, and when I was at Southern and went to Texas Southern, that was also the case. I wound up in political science sort of as a second choice because I really wanted to study journalism and I wanted to write.

BARKER: You would have, in fact, clarified a whole lot of things for us.

JONES: Or confused 'em even more. (Barker laughs)

BARKER: Yeah, uh, believe it or not, I played around with sports 00:12:00journalism, uh, for the Digest for a while. Mack, when you arrived at Southern, you were not quite sure what your major was gonna be. Couldn't be journalism because there was no journalism department. How did you end up in political science?

JONES: Uh, well, I just made a decision that I thought it was the next best interest for me, um, and I'm not so sure if I had any idea about a career as a political scientist. But it was something that interests me. As a matter of fact, in some ways I always think that, um, I wound up not choosing the things that excited me most, but by sort of, uh, eliminating things that excited me--

BARKER: Least.

JONES: --the least. (both laugh)

BARKER: Fascinating, um, in sense of Louisiana politics. Uh, for a 00:13:00number of people, uh, the Longs and that ilk and their successors offered a rather interesting, um, um, area for analysis. And, uh, people had some notions about manipulation of power and that kind of turned them on to see how people used power. Um, do--can you recall your first course in political science at Southern?

JONES: Uh, yeah, I'm trying to think if--I think the first course I had was the one with Jewel, the American government course, should have been. I think so. Um, I was talking about this at one of the celebrations they had for Jewel, uh, and, uh, uh, I also wanted to take Jewel's courses for many reasons. Uh, and I don't know if my interest 00:14:00was that compelling in American government at that time, but, uh, I wound up in Jewel's course, and, uh, of course that piqued my interest in political science. And then I had a course with Rodney Higgins and, uh, I guess that was the first course I had after I declared a major. And, uh, Rodney did some things that were not so important in interesting me more in political science, but it was in making me aware of what it took to be a serious scholar. I remember the first exam he gave. The entire exam was taken from the content footnotes. Most undergrad students, you just don't bother with that. (laughs) He never talked about the importance of reading, but if you were at all bright, 00:15:00and you realized that the whole damn exam came from those, uh, those, uh, notes, then you knew you had to read and understand everything. And he also had a habit of picking out the words that were not common, and if you hadn't looked them up, if you didn't know them, then you didn't do well. And I think that course, uh, probably told me more about what was required to do good work than anything else.

BARKER: Do you recall during the course of your, uh, classes in the political science department what specific area of the discipline really turned you on? You know, you do public law, we do American government politics, comparative politics, international relations. Uh, we break 'em down, as you well know, into many areas and--

PRESTAGE: I think you, you are constitutional law [recording error]--


BARKER: Jeff Robinson.

PRESTAGE: Jeff Robinson. Then you had a course with Professor Ernest Patterson.

JONES: Um-hm. Comparative, I think.

PRESTAGE: And, uh, I believe [recording error]--

JONES: Yeah, I took intro with, uh, Higgins. Um-hm.

PRESTAGE: That's right. And of course the course that you took with me was the American government course, which was not a special course for majors, but a general education course.

JONES: You know, I was really interested in international politics, but, uh, I wound up leaving Southern before that course came up. Uh, and I guess a course that really, again, excited me most was Higgins course, as much for his own personality as it was for the content of the course. Um, the con-, constitutional law course I had with George Robinson was, uh, an interesting course. I liked the subject matter, and George was an interesting, uh, personality both in terms of the 00:17:00virtues of a professor and other attributes that are not quite so virtuous. George ran, uh, a serious course. George was the kind of person who performed, you know, that, uh, and you can learn a lot if you can understand that. I think, think I did. Yeah.

BARKER: During the course of your undergraduate study in the sixties or late fifties, um, there was considerable turmoil in the nation as you well know. And you mentioned the fact that you started your major at Southern but you finished your major at Texas Southern, as I recall. I think it would appropriate, Mack, to kind of give us your view of what really happened, uh, and, uh, as you look back on it these years, uh, how you view the action that you took, uh, in terms of, uh, moving to another institution to complete your undergraduate work.


JONES: Okay. Let me back up a little bit. Now my very first semester in college was at Paul Quinn in Waco.

BARKER: Waco, Texas.

JONES: I went there for one semester. I was living in Ft. Worth at the time and actually I was kind of looking for a job and didn't find a job so I, I went down to Paul Quinn. Then I decided to transfer back to Southern. And I was at Southern for the two years, and as you indicated, that was the time of social upheaval, the sit-ins and I participated in the sit-ins and for those of us who happened to have been arrested, we were all, uh, expelled from the university. So I wound up going to Texas Southern after having been expelled from Southern. Some of the other students went to other places, Howard and Lincoln and so forth. But it was a simply a matter of, uh, a lot of folk being involved but those who got arrested had to leave and I left. Um-hm.

PRESTAGE: Tell us specifically what you did, in order to get singled out by the police, uh, for, uh, arrest.


JONES: Okay. There were three different groups of students who were arrested at the initial stage of these demonstrations. I was with the group that had gone down to the Greyhound bus station to protest the segregated, uh, facilities at the bus station. And we were arrested for that. Um, and we stayed in jail, I don't know, about a week or so. And, uh, we were allowed to come back to the university for a short while and then we were all expelled. [recording error] We were all expelled, uh, from Southern. That was in 1960.

BARKER: The administration chose to expel you because of pressure from the governing board?

JONES: Well, that's interesting, and I'm not sure, uh, Felton Clark the president, was out of town when the demonstrations occurred. And Felton Clark used to give these speeches indicating that black people 00:20:00had to stand up and fight and do all these good things. And we thought when Felton Clark came back to town that we would have somebody to really defend and support us. That turned out not to be have been the case. Now one could argue, well I think, I think we could assume that the board would not have been happy. But whether or not the board put direct pressure on him to make this decision. In fact, I don't know because some places the president didn't expel the students, some places they did. My own guess is that, uh, the president anticipated what the board would expect, uh, whatever and decide to expel the students. But I don't know, I've never -I don't know that anyone ever interviewed him and far as I know of, and at least have any official statement about why he did it.

BARKER: So you actually played an active role in the demise of segregated, uh, life and customs in that, uh, part of the South? You 00:21:00played an active role and your views were actually put into practice?

JONES: Yeah, and we almost had the compelling case. Now our case went to the Supreme Court.

BARKER: Garner?

JONES: Uh, yeah.

BARKER: Garner v. Louisiana.

JONES: Yeah, and I was part of the group, Briscoe and others, that was three cases. At any rate--except that, you know, the court decided not to in fact rule on the main constitutional issue, so we were denied our place in history because of that. But, uh, in some, yeah, we played a part.

BARKER: It escaped on, uh, the, what vagueness--

JONES: Yeah, the law was vague.

BARKER: Insufficient evidence.

JONES: Yeah.

BARKER: It never confronted the constitution.

JONES: Right. This is right. Yeah.

BARKER: Um, do you know what happened to your colleagues, uh, after they left Southern and went along their way?

JONES: Yeah, most of them, most of them. And it was interesting because we were all expelled in the middle of the semester, and, uh, 00:22:00we thought we would lose credit for that semester because, uh, we hadn't completed the term. I was surprised and my other classmates were surprised when we wound up at the other institution--I went to Texas Southern--Southern University sent a transcript that included a full semester of courses for that last semester. Now I have never known to this day whether or not the president knew that grades had been sent in and transcripts had been cut, or even he may have told 'em to do it. 'Cause on the one hand, it's difficult for me to imagine the registrar's office doing that and taking the risk without the president's approval. But at least I know all of us got the credit for that semester. And, uh, I think everyone of the sixteen students wound up transferring someplace. The seven folk who were in my group, 00:23:00I know, uh, at least one person went to Howard, two or three people went to Central State in Ohio. Someone went to Lincoln University. So everyone was placed and, uh, all of them did well. Well, one fellow, I know had some personal problems, but for the most part, everyone went off and finished and many of them went off and did advanced work, and, uh, are doing quite well.


BARKER: I ran into one of your--

PRESTAGE: --follow-up on that group of students is the subject of a master's thesis done by Melinda Bartley under my direction entitled, "Southern University Student Activism Revisited" and also the twenty- fifth anniversary of the, uh, sit-in was observed at Southern University 00:24:00in a public program. And a number of those students came back. One is a high level judge. Another one works for AT&T with an office on Madison Avenue. You have, uh, several Ph.D.s from the group and Marvin Robinson, is a successful entrepreneur and lawyer.

BARKER: It's very interesting, indeed. Uh, I was really interested in the fact that those transcripts showed a completed semester and one has to assume given power relationships within black universities at that time that the decision had to come from up high--(laughs)--I'll put it that way--

PRESTAGE: I don't think--

BARKER: --rather than in some lower levels of the bureaucracy.

JONES: That would be my guess. I would really like to know. I don't know.


PRESTAGE: As a person on the Southern University faculty at that time, and knowing the principals in the Southern, in the Southern University administration who were involved, I would stake, uh, my life almost on the fact that, uh, this was an action approved, condoned, and perhaps even ordered by the president of the university.

BARKER: And there's another factor which leads me to believe that there was some involvement by the president in the sanctioning process and what happened to the students later on, uh, by the fact that you were all admitted at historic black institutions and these people are very close to each other. Uh, and I, I could envision a telephone call 00:26:00from, uh, the president's office on Southern's campus to the president at Texas Southern. Was Harold Lanier there at that time?

JONES: Sam Mabry was the president--

BARKER: Sam Mabry was there, yeah, saying that, you know, this is the way it is and accommodate these students if you can. Uh, very interesting indeed. Mack, what did this do to shaping your philosophy of politics at that time? You were in a real life situation of power manipulation and your views about politics and about the, uh, governing process in terms of making decisions, uh, in state universities.

JONES: Well, you know, I didn't see it from that standpoint. I was concerned, um, Felton Clark, I guess, was a kind of father figure with me as my own father. And my own father had been, and was a man who 00:27:00exhorted you to do things but who stood up and fought. There were countless times in my own little town where my father had to defy white people about something that was important to us, and I have seen Felton in the same light because he would make those kind of speeches and I think what came out of that situation for me was a recognition that, uh, you really couldn't depend upon black folk in these positions of power. That, uh, when push came to shove, that they would not only do what I took to be the white man's bidding, but I wasn't convinced it was a matter of only doing it because they were trying to protect some greater good, but that they were simply not prepared to go through the stress that would be involved when you stand off. Now I've gotten 00:28:00older and I've had time to think about that a little more and I suppose my views are tempered a little bit. But I came out of that with that understanding and I didn't have that understanding before because, again, my own father was a figure that--and I had known situations in which, uh, the risks were dire indeed. But he would draw the line and we assume--I assumed that you did that and you, you dealt with the consequences.

BARKER: Actually, presidents did not exercise unlimited power.

JONES: Right.

BARKER: Power was very limited, circumscribed by conditions, uh, by situations as they arose.

JONES: Um-hm.

BARKER: Now, your last year or two, was it two, two years at Texas Southern?

JONES: Yeah, two years.

BARKER: The last two years you were there, and you completed that and then the decision to go to graduate school?


BARKER: Okay. I've always wondered, uh, about your choice--


JONES: Illinois?

BARKER: --Illinois. And wondered whether or not Lucius and I might have--

JONES: Well, actually I knew--

PRESTAGE: I think before you, before you--

BARKER: Get to that area--

PRESTAGE: --go to that--I think there's something else at Texas Southern that I believe I recall, uh, Mack that might be of interest that has [recording error] award that you got from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, and the special circumstances of that award and how you handled spec- [recording error].

JONES: When I--about to finish at Texas Southern, the political science department didn't do very much in the way of advising students and placing students, but there was a fellow in economics, Hugh Gloster, not Hugh Gloster, uh, Jesse Gloster who I had had a couple courses with. I had a minor in economics, and he would go out of his way to try to encourage students to apply for fellowships and getting grants and so forth. So Jesse Gloster I had to thank for nomin-, you had to be nominated. He nominated me for consideration for the Wilson 00:30:00Fellowship and I think for the Danforth Fellowship and some other things. Now up until this time, the Woodrow Wilson people had never given, uh, the Wilson Fellowship to a graduate of Texas Southern. As a matter of fact, I think they had already built a pipeline with Southern, but there were not many other black colleges in which they had given awards. So they came up with this idea that they would expand their network. They would consider other black institutions, but, uh, they were fearful that the students might not do well in graduate school, so they had this program in which you had to go off to--the summer, the summer before graduate school, you had to go off to some major university for the summer school program. So I first got the announcement that I had been selected as a Wilson Fellow. Then I got the information that, uh, it was contingent upon going to summer 00:31:00school at the University of Texas, I guess to demonstrate that I could read and write. Now I was finishing with a magna cum laude G.P. and stuff and so I said, uh, "I don't think I wanna do that." I talked to Jewel and some other folk and they said, "Well maybe you ought to." And I decided to go ahead and do it, and it was in their interest too because I needed six hours to complete my undergrad degree. I was gonna have to go to summer school anyway. But so I went to Austin to take two graduate courses; they allowed me to do that and transfer them back. And, uh, old man Dean McCutcheon from Tulane was the head of this program. I remember he came to Austin almost in the middle of the summer term and of course they expected me to struggle. I was doing well. I was leading, the leading student in both of the classes. 00:32:00I had an economics class and a history class, and I'll never forget because I was so upset. When he found that out, he assumed that I must have been in courses that were not rigorous. He tried to offer a proposition about the middle of the semester to have me transferred to some other courses because his own assumption was that, uh, we need this as if it were remediation, and he was expecting that I would have trouble and then they would administer to my problems. Well, of course, I told him categorically I'd have nothing to do with it. And so I went ahead and finished that, uh, summer and they transferred the work back to, to Texas Southern. And, uh, you asked me about the decision to go to Illinois. Well, I knew that, um, you and Lucius had finished at Illinois, and there was someone else.


BARKER: Had Oliver Wilson go there?

JONES: Yeah, Oliver Wilson and there was, there was a third black person.

BARKER: Munroe Yerby had gone there for a master's degree as I recall.

JONES: I'm thinking it's--seemed to me there was somebody--at any rate, yeah, I knew about the, the ----------(??).

BARKER: Maybe Bashful had gone.

JONES: Yeah, Bashful's the other person. And, uh, so I assumed then that at least the place must have been hospitable for black folk and I assumed that, uh, for that reason, I, I applied. I'm trying to think if I applied anyplace else. I don't know where else I applied. But I applied and was accepted there, but that is why I decided to go. I never had been to Champaign-Urbana. I remember when I, I took the train up there, I didn't know a soul. I didn't know anybody. But I went because I knew that you guys had, had done well there.

BARKER: And when you got there, did you, uh, find the department what 00:34:00you expected?

JONES: Well, I suppose so because I didn't have any real fine expectations. I had some idea about graduate school, but not--I really didn't know anybody that well who had said to me anything about what to expect. Uh, when I got there, there were two, I think two other black students in the Ph.D. program, Ron Dale and Jim Jones. Um, but, uh, people were kind to me. I met, uh, Dr. Higgins--not Dr. Higgins, Dr., uh, Cliff Hagan early--

BARKER: Charles.

JONES: --Charles Hagan, Charles Hagan. And, um, uh, Charlie Neil.

BARKER: Kneier.

JONES: --Kneier. And Snider who headed the department.

PRESTAGE: Francis Wilson.

JONES: Yeah, I had a course with Francis Wilson too. But they were 00:35:00all very kind to me. Uh, I had a fellowship the first year and then the next year, the university, uh, gave me--no, yeah, I did a teaching assistant the second year. Then had fellowships the next two years, and the people were awful accommodating. Um, I was, I think, a little more aggressive and maybe radical than a lot of students, and I would raise a lot of questions that I don't think they were accustomed to having to respond to, but they were decent about it.

BARKER: Under whom did you start focus? Did you do a master's thesis or you went straight on to a Ph.--

JONES: I did a master's thesis--

BARKER: --master's thesis--

JONES: --I was in international organization and I did a master's thesis on conflict resolution in the ----------(??) house.

BARKER: Was Clarence Berdahl still there?

JONES: No, he had retired. I did, I did the master's thesis with, uh, a young fellow who had just come in.

BARKER: Bob Kramer (??)?

JONES: No, Lloyd Jensen.

BARKER: Lloyd Jensen.

JONES: Who has now become, you know, fairly well-known.


PRESTAGE: ----------(??).

JONES: Fairly well- known, but he, he's out there now. Uh, but I did the master's thesis with, with him. Um, my--Bob Scott, Robert Scott, was, uh, I guess my--

BARKER: Latin American politics?

JONES: Yeah, I had an interest in Africa, but they had nobody in Africa, so we wound up deciding I would do the Latin American theme, uh, with him, and as I remember, I also did a comparative thing, something with him. But I--they allowed me to do my work on Africa because there was nobody there in Africa. Um [recording error] fellow that to, to, uh, Wisconsin, uh, Murray--

BARKER: Murray Edelman.

JONES: Yeah, he was still there, yeah.

BARKER: Austin Ranney might have been there.

JONES: Yeah, Austin Ranney but I think he was on leave that year. And Monypenny, of course I worked closely with Monypenny, yeah.

BARKER: Okay. All right. Um, so you did your dissertation something regarding Africa?


JONES: No, I did my dissertation--I went back to organization. I did my dissertation on the secretary general of the UN.

BARKER: Of the UN, okay.

PRESTAGE: Am I correct in recalling that you started a dissertation that someone else was working on. Lefever was working on--

JONES: Yeah, I didn't get too far on that one, right.

PRESTAGE: All right.

JONES: Yeah, that was, uh, I wanted to do a case study of the UN's involvement in the Congo. And I had gotten pretty--a little piece down the road and Lefever came out with a book--

BARKER: On that?

JONES: --on that topic. Which I decided to drop.

BARKER: Uh, Mack, what were the burning issues in political science when you were studying in Lincoln Hall?

JONES: Well the big issue for them was behavioralism or not. That was the thing. That was the thing. Uh, and Illinois was just sort of getting in on the ground floor. They had brought in, uh--


BARKER: Dennis?

JONES: --Dennis, Dennis Sullivan, so I, I decided to take methods as one of my fields and so I had the method exam with Dennis Sullivan and had a couple courses with him. Uh, and the--two of the seminars, the debates kind of went around whether or not political science could be a science or whatever. But when I was in grad school, I always had my own agenda, so on, on the one hand, it was kind of shadow boxing with what they had as the agenda, and I was struggling to try to make sense of conditions of black folk in politics. So I was always, on the one hand, uh, kind of participating in their debates, but then trying to force them to participate in what I thought to be--well what was of more interest to me. Uh, and it, it worked, I guess. It works.

PRESTAGE: Uh, how many professors were you able to get to engage you in 00:39:00discussions of your issues?

JONES: Almost all of them, um, because--well, they would always respond to a challenge in class. Now, out of class, there were only two or three people I spent time talking with.

BARKER: Charlie Hagan probably should have been one of them.

JONES: Yeah, Charlie Hagan, yeah, and Monypenny. And, uh, Dennis Scott in a certain sort of way. Bob Scott, who was my primary advisor for a while, um, he just kind of indulged me. I think he thought, well, it must be something here 'cause I think he thought I was fairly bright, but it wasn't anything that commanded his attention. I remember trying to get him to deal with questions on imperialism, and the U.S.'s position in Africa and so forth, and Latin America. And it was like, for him, okay if you wanna talk about that, I'll listen, but I don't 00:40:00think I wanna push it very far. But, butt I didn't have any situations which I thought folk were hostile or [recording error] being evasive or that sort of thing. At first, it was as if it was new to them. And it was like the kinds of things that I was saying were things that apparently none of them even imagined. But I remember as the term would unfold, before the term was over, they would begin to--when issues would come up, they would begin to look over and either ask me in some many words what was the black perspective or what was my perspective on that, or either they would look at me, wave to me.

BARKER: Waiting for you to ask them.

JONES: Yeah.

BARKER: Or to challenge or to offer it.

JONES: Or sometimes when students would say certain things, then others would realize oh, that's gonna bring a response from him, and so they'd look to see okay, how am I gonna respond to that. But it was always 00:41:00done, I thought in a fairly decent way.

BARKER: What was the nature of the interactions with your graduate student cohorts? Uh, you, you were one of, I guess, three black graduate students among what, twenty, twenty-five, uh--

JONES: Thirty or so.

BARKER: --Ph.D. level?

JONES: Yeah, I was the only one--see, Ron and Jim had both finished their course work, so I was the only one taking courses at the time. As a matter of fact, the whole time I was there, the only time they had another black student in a class was when Barbara, was my, who is now my wife was in a couple courses together. Uh, but otherwise, all the white students would, uh--well, for one, you know most of the graduate students were just not very aggressive. They were just trying to figure out what the party line was and, uh, there was not much give and take among us, especially about the kinds of things I had an interest 00:42:00in. There were two people. One was an older lady, uh, Roseanne Rothing (??) who--we spent a lot of time discussing issues. She was a Jewish woman, and then there was a guy from Brooklyn, Silverstein, I think his name. [recording error] Otherwise, uh, except for the things that just came up in the course of the discussion of a particular issue, didn't have much of a relationship with [recording error]--

BARKER: --works might have been those that were, that excited your, your, your analytical mind--(laughs)--and caused you to really think deeply about the nature of the, uh, particular, uh, issues that they were raising. Uh, what, what were big works, uh, at that time that you 00:43:00generally find people, uh, excited about?

JONES: Well, I was interested in philosophy science sort of questions, always, something that always interested me, and at that time, the Coombs (??) work was getting a lot of attention, The Scientific Revolution. And, uh, some things, um, uh, by, uh, Northrop, the logical sciences and humanities. Uh, Reichenbach's (??) work, I'm trying to think of the title of that book now, um, [recording error] the things that we confronted in, at the university, those are the things that excited me more than anything else. I was reading some things in African politics, uh, Rothberg, uh, but I was not comfortable with him--

PRESTAGE: ----------(??).


PRESTAGE: The, uh, volumes that you've just cited on philosophy of science and that kind of thing, in which of your courses at the 00:44:00graduate level did you, uh, use these particular references?

JONES: Well, in the, uh, the course that was called Scope and Methods I think, uh, that Monypenny taught, uh, and we some of that, uh, in the, uh, Advanced Methods course. It was sort of just the early part of that course, by Moneypenny's course in Scope and Methods was where we confronted those issues more than anything else.

PRESTAGE: Now as you [recording error] your graduate study [telephone rings] I know that, uh, you were concerned that the Wilson Foundation would reach a conclusion that would indicate, uh, to future students at Texas Southern that it was all right to aspire to the status of a 00:45:00Woodrow Wilson Fellow.

JONES: Um-hm.

PRESTAGE: That as you, uh, went through the University of Texas in that trial by fire, I know that you did very well there, but as you started your graduate studies, especially as you got into these methodology courses, how prepared did you feel to deal with this subject matter which was quite different from subject matter that you had encountered at the undergraduate level?

JONES: Oh, I didn't feel at all uncomfortable. As a matter of fact, and I suppose it's part of my vanity, but I've never been in a situation where I felt that, uh, I was less prepared, uh, uh, except for when I took German. (laughs) But no, I, uh, in the, in the Scope and Methods course, 80 percent of the people professed the fear that they were lost 00:46:00all the time. It was a course that folk really moaned a lot about, but, uh, uh, [recording error] I've always felt that I was fortunate in that regard, that from my elementary school days and my high school days, my undergraduate days, I just think I've always had quality instruction. Matter of fact, um, I don't think, uh, for example, in graduate school I ran across a professor who was anywhere near the professor, Dr. Bullitt was at Texas Southern. Uh--

[Pause in recording.]


PRESTAGE: We are beginning tape two of the interview with Dr. Mack Jones, American Political Science Association Oral History Project. Jewel Prestage--

BARKER: And Twiley Barker are interviewing.

PRESTAGE: --Atlanta, Georgia, July 15th, 1994. As I--(clears throat)- -was indicating Dr. Jones, that I know of the quality of your work as reflected in your transcript, if my memory serves me correctly, and if I'm not violating any of the requirements of the privacy act, that I recall that in the political sciences courses taken, you did not re-, receive a single grade that was less than an A.


JONES: That's correct.

PRESTAGE: I had no idea that the grading system at the University of Illinois was so lax. (laughs) Uh, in any case--

JONES: It was, it was rigorous, Jewel.

PRESTAGE: --this is an exceptional, this is an exceptional achievement and, uh, I use it frequently as you know to challenge undergraduate students as well as graduate students about the possibilities of doing well and also raising questions, uh, and not simply being educated by others, but being an activist in your own education.

BARKER: When you completed the degree, Mack, what was your first position?

JONES: Uh, assistant professor at Texas Southern.

BARKER: Texas Southern.

PRESTAGE: In the meantime, though, he had--during his graduate study, 00:49:00returned to the school that expelled him as a faculty member.

JONES: Just during the summer.

PRESTAGE: Would you want to say a little bit about, uh, that particular experience?

JONES: Well, I was pleased, uh, and it said something about the dynamics of politics and race and all that. The fact that the university was willing to have me come back and teach a summer after having expelled me. Uh, I don't know if Jewel is prying for this, because that summer I was working there, the university was trying to get the grass to grow on the campus, and to keep kids from walking on the grass, they put up barbed wire, strands of barbed wire. Other places, they would put up a chain ----------(??), but they put up the barbed wire, and I just thought that was a great insult, and so I told all my students if, if you're failing the course, you would get at least a D if you bring in a strand of that barbed wire. (Barker laughs) I did have a couple kids 00:50:00who took me up on that, you know. (laughs) I don't think that made the, uh, the dean happy about that.

BARKER: Uh, what was your menu of courses that you offered?

PRESTAGE: That was not exactly what I was probing for. I was probing for the, uh, some indication of the exhilaration, uh, there that you felt at that particular turn of events, uh, from, uh, an administration that expelled you, to an administration that, uh, brought you on there as a faculty member and, uh--

JONES: Was the same administration, too, right?

PRESTAGE: The same administration.



JONES: Well, that told me a little something there. Um, I don't know, I did so--it, it said something about the way in which black folk were, on the one hand, trying to do good by each other; at the same time, 00:51:00trying to accommodate themselves to the racist structure. I enjoyed that summer too. I, uh, it was my first chance to have a professorial position. I enjoyed it.

BARKER: [recording error] I just ask, what was the menu, what was your course menu as you began teaching?

JONES: Well, when I started Texas Southern, uh, uh, the state required, uh, two different courses in American government, one in American government, one in state government.

PRESTAGE: Not just state government, but Texas government.

JONES: Yeah, yeah, Texas government. And so I taught, uh, those courses and I think I taught a course and, um, I'm thinking the first 00:52:00year, they asked me to teach a course in, oh, international politics. That was the other course. I taught, uh, the three survey courses in American government or Texas government and then a course in international politics.

BARKER: Mack, if you had the good fortune of having to restructure the political science curriculum at the undergraduate level--we'll start off there, uh, what would you consider? What would you include? What I'm getting at, are we teaching the kinds of courses that we should be teaching in the study of politics?

JONES: Well, I think so. One thing I would do, and I would do this even if I were in high school, is that we would, I think, need to begin 00:53:00all learning with courses that really deal with the process through which we generate knowledge. That is, that folk ought to have a basic grounding in the philosophy of the social sciences early on. Um, now after that, it's not so much whether or not we're teaching the right courses, I think, as it is what are the assumptions around which the course is organized? And clearly it makes sense from the standpoint of the broader society to organize those courses around the assumptions that come out of the dominant American world-view. But since I think that, um, I know the focus of my work has to do with the, the, uh, efforts to really liberate black folk. The, the effort to generate 00:54:00a vat (??) knowledge that would be useful for black folk to transform that condition and transform the world. Then, the courses would grow to organize on different assumptions. We may well have more or less the same set of courses, although I think there are other type courses we need to put in, but for me, the problem is not that we're teaching the wrong courses, it's that the overriding purpose of American higher education is antithetical to what I believe to be my own purposes. Because the purposes, I think, are to--in a sense, uh, reinforce the legitimacy of the kinds and processes and interests that are out here now, and by and large, the courses do that. So they're very functional for, for the folk who are in charge.

BARKER: For the folks who have power now.

JONES: Yes, yes.

BARKER: It's the protection of those who have power.

JONES: Yeah.

BARKER: And a defense against those who don't have power.

JONES: Yeah. And, and in some sense, um, in one way, it's a narrower- 00:55:00-what, if you simply identify those that have power, but it's broad because most of the folk who don't have power identify with and support those who do. So in that sense the way the course is organized now could be said to serve what they would define as a broad societal interest. Uh, and of course my own concern is that we have to change the assumption and that will change the nature of the courses because we have to generate a body of information that is functional for folk who are more concerned with transformation than they are with conservation.

PRESTAGE: Dr. Jones, my understanding is that the Ph.D. program in political science created at Atlanta University was designed in part to 00:56:00try to bring about that kind of trans-, transformation in the approach to the study of political science which is characterized--the discipline in the United States--would you speak to that, uh, for a moment please?

BARKER: Well, Jewel, before he does that, let's move him from Texas Southern to Atlanta. At some stage, you left Texas Southern.

PRESTAGE: In 1967.

JONES: Yeah, I worked at Texas Southern really for one year, uh, and, uh, I, um, I was asked to leave. I was--again, that was in the movement days, and I was advisor to a student group called the Friends of SNCC. And they not only raised money to support SNCC activities in the black belt, but they were also active on campus and in Houston. 00:57:00And the president of the university felt that that was a threat, so, uh, uh, he decided that, uh, my contract wouldn't be renewed and after that, there were a lot of demonstrations and things, so in a sense I left, um, uh, Texas Southern [recording error] I went to Atlanta University and a friend of mine, Ron Bailey, who had succeeded Samuel Cook was the chair at Atlanta. So I went there.

[Pause in recording.]

JONES: Okay, I didn't see the light.

BARKER: And at that time, you began offering courses at Atlanta University. Eventually, you became chairman of that?

JONES: Yeah, what happened is that uh, uh, my, I, my first, my first year I served on the faculty, then I really didn't think I was gonna stay so I got a postdoctoral grant to do some research for my second 00:58:00year. Then after--

PRESTAGE: You got the grant from the Ford Foundation?

JONES: Right.

PRESTAGE: Nineteen sixty-eight.

JONES: So after that, Ron Bailey left Atlanta, and since there were only two of us in the department, then I became the chair. And now those first years at Atlanta were really interesting because it meant we had to teach the entire graduate curriculum, which meant I learned a lot of things that I should have learned someplace else because you had to teach those courses. But so, uh, it was at this same time that, uh, a lot of questions were being raised about the need for more relevant education and so forth. And, uh, the Ford Foundation was being pressured to put some money into black graduate education. Sam Cook was now at the foundation as a program officer, and he was pushing 00:59:00the foundation to put money into black graduate education. [recording error] Internal politics at the foundation were such that if you were gonna give money to black graduate education, you had to make a case. Why would you give money to black graduate education when you could give that same money to Harvard, Yale, uh, some other place? And Sam was searching for a rationale to justify getting the money for Atlanta University and Howard. I, at the same time, had been making an argument of the need to have a political science that moved from what we were calling at that time a black perspective. And Sam was familiar with my own work. So, in a sense, uh, the internal politics of the foundation, my own interests and Dr. Cook's interest came together to allow us to 01:00:00make a convincing, uh, convincing proposal to the Ford Foundation that would allow them, on the one hand, to justify giving the money to black graduate education; at the same time, it allowed us to do the things we wanted to do. So, uh, Sam and I really developed the rationale for political science that would move from what we call a black perspective and, uh, we made the argument that DuBois and some other folk had made, was that all knowledge was in fact parochial because all knowledge grew out of experiences of the people involved in generating that knowledge. And just as the mainstream political science grew out of these experiences and certain interests, uh, it would make sense to have at least one place where black folk would develop curriculum that came out 01:01:00of our own experiences, and the foundation agreed to make the grant. I think the grant was a million seven, which at that time was a sizeable grant, which allowed us to, uh, hire some new faculty, have money for fellowships for graduate students. Um, and they sort of gave us a free hand to--the university did, to work through all the courses. What we did is that we started from scratch. We had a conference in which we called together a lot of people and we talked about the different courses and what they all involved. And so by the time we got the grant, we were able to put on the table at least the beginnings of the curriculum that would move from a black perspective. We were able to attract really first-class faculty, and over time--five or six years- 01:02:00-we built, I think, by any stretch of the imagination a program of high quality that covered the entire gamut of political phenomenon. But it moved from a different perspective, and you could see the results of that because even now, uh, folk recognized students who completed their work at Atlanta, no matter which faculty they serve on, people recognized that these people were different, had different assumptions than folk who came out of ----------(??) programs.

PRESTAGE: Now, the last available statistic on Ph.D. production in political science indicates that Atlanta University became not only a political science department with a different perspective, but also 01:03:00the leading producer of African-American Ph.D. holders. And I think while these statistics are not available through the American Political Science Association database, that these graduates of that program have found their way onto faculties at all kinds of institutions throughout the United States and the world, and that by the traditional standards for evaluating faculty, they have done well in teaching, research, service, and they seem to surface in ways that, uh, indicate that the quality of their teaching, research [recording error] is, 01:04:00uh, commensurate with that of the other good departments of political science.

JONES: Yeah, that's true. And its students are all over the world, but one of the things I'm proudest about is that we have a very strong delegation of graduates who are at the black colleges in the South. Many places now there would not a black person on the political science faculty if it were not for the Atlanta University because a good proportion of them had, as a part of their own commitment, that they would serve in these institutions. Uh, and I mean, they're good people, uh they're people who, uh, could find places almost any place, but they've chosen to do that.

PRESTAGE: Those who have not chosen to do so have in fact found good positions, uh, at, uh, non-Southern universities and non-historically 01:05:00black universities.

BARKER: Mack, um, you stayed at Atlanta for a long period of time, uh, and then you moved into, quote, university administration. Would you comment briefly about your decision to leave from administering a department where you'd had, had some teaching responsibility to becoming a dean?

JONES: Well actually--now I left--initially I left Atlanta and went to Howard, which was the good life. I was just a professor and, uh, but then actually, my wife was still in Atlanta. We needed to sort of hook up together so we both decided to go to, uh, Prairie View where I became--really it's head, head of the division. Uh, to be honest about it, I've never cared that much for administrative chores, yet someone 01:06:00has to do them, and they pay you more to do them. And, uh, I did them for that reason. But, uh, uh, I really find teaching much more satisfying than administrative things, uh, [recording error] above all we certainly need to get, I think, more people who have a commitment to, uh, certain academic interests into administration. But it is not something that fires me up.

BARKER: Now along the way, Mack, you wrote some very interesting pieces out there, uh, and I've seen you cited in a number of places. Uh, which piece do you find that, uh, you think you made the greatest contribution to our understanding of political phenomenon?


JONES: Well the piece that I hope will make the greatest contribution is the piece that I published in The National Political Science Review a couple of years ago, uh, that deals with epistemology and the way in which these life, sort of, experience is handled in American political science. And that's also my great disappointment. I've been writing in this vein for twenty years, and, uh, I always get good reviews from folk. Uh, folk say they like the work, but I really don't get the kind of serious discussion of these ideas that I'm seeking. And I don't know if there's people just not turned on by it or what the situation is, but, uh, that, this piece I mentioned, in which I am really trying to make a fundamental critique of the nature of American political 01:08:00science, why it is what it is, and why it can never serve the interests of black folk. Now that's sort of provocative. But I make that argument by, I think, organizing to a great extent some unassailable assumptions that most folk in the philosophy of science defer to. And I like to engage people in a discussion of that, so either they have to conclude that these assumptions are in fact not unassailable or that there's some faulty logic on my part by the way I link 'em together. But I never get that, and--I sometimes, I've gotten reviews from, uh, referees about some of this stuff, because they decide, uh, to say the work is not meritorious but they never engaged in argument about it. So, anyway, that, that's something that I--


BARKER: That that raises another question, too, about the nature of the research which is accepted for publication in the American Political Science Association's journal, APSR. Uh, I'm sure that you've had some, uh, at least some--you've been troubled by some of the--

JONES: Well to be honest--

BARKER: --decisions which are being made.

JONES: --it has not been a, a source of information for me for a long time. I still look at it. But it's rare that there's a piece that seems to have any interest that goes beyond a small group of specialists who simply write about this theme, whatever it is, but I mean something that has some insights that would allow someone else to do something that are more efficiently or whatever in political life. I just don't see that, uh. And I, I've concluded really that, 01:10:00um--you remember when ----------(??) Millers wrote this piece on the sociological imagination. And one of the arguments he made was that, um, uh, a lot of social sciences were engaged in what he called abstracted empiricism, which was a compilation of a lot of, uh, kind of mundane quote empirical information that, uh, uh, had little meaning beyond the immediate compilation. And I just think that political science has long been overtaken by what you would call an abstracted empiricist and they'll even purport to have anything to say, uh, that has consequences for what happens in the world.

PRESTAGE: Dr. Jones, as you are relocating at Atlanta University, with 01:11:00a little different kind of agenda and a little different responsibility [recording error] inherent in this new status, new position that you have, the potential for bringing people together around these kinds of critical and significant issues which, um, you hadn't been able to generate interest in, uh, over the last several years that you've been trying to, uh, do that.

JONES: Well, I don't think this is gonna be much of a focus now for me. What I'm going to be doing now is, uh, I'm gonna be writing from what I believe to be a more useful perspective and I think the work the folk I'll be working with will be doing that as well. [recording error] Uh, this new responsibility is gonna involve, uh, trying to make systematic studies of black political development and socio-economic development 01:12:00[recording error] how to develop, oh, systematic description and analyses of what has happened in black political and socio-economic writings [recording error] in 1965 [recording error] um.

PRESTAGE: Of the political science students for whom you served as mentor in the Atlanta University program, as they were earning their Ph.D. degrees, are there any students among them who seemed to have a community of interest around these critical issues with you? In other words, if you could get three or four of your own students engaged in the kind of discourse that, uh, you found--find wanting in the profession, would this be the beginning?


JONES: [recording error] It could be except I don't think I wanna do that now there. I could call up at least probably a dozen folk who I think we share a common assessment of the discipline, and a common vision about where it ought to go. And I think each of them in his, her own way is doing work in that regard. [recording error] I just think, um, it's a matter of people's world-view and I've learned, I think, that you can't lecture in such a way that you can dispose someone to transcend their own world-view. I think folk have to come to that through, uh, deciding for themselves that what they--the information which they now have or the process by which they get it is inadequate, and it is, I think, a search for the recognition of 01:14:00the inadequacy of the information that you have and at some point a recognition that the assumptions that you began with account for some of that. I think that's what, uh, pushed people to explore the paradigms and I think, um, maybe it's something that one can do or say to make that process work. But, like at Atlanta, because the whole program was structured around that, so it was easy for students to move in that direction, but if folk only hear an occasional lecture or read a paper or something, uh, I just don't think there's much possibility that [recording error] unless something happens in their own lives. Um, but I wanted to mention on the--you asked me about when I was talking about, uh, works. Now the piece that I think I have gotten the 01:15:00most attention from is a piece I did, the very first thing I did after I left graduate school, was a piece on what I call a frame of reference for black politics in which I was trying to--yeah. And a lot of people still make mention of that in some way, and I did a real critical piece for the Maynard Jackson administration in Atlanta, and I hear a lot from that. I heard a lot from that. But I think those are things that people, uh, looked at and gave some--

BARKER: Margie Barnett did some--

JONES: [recording error] yeah, and yeah, I remember --

BARKER: --in the study of, of black politics [recording error] theoretical frameworks did not mend the ----------(??) of power that drastically.

JONES: Yeah. Yeah.

PRESTAGE: [recording error] Um, as I recall, that was ----------(??) Henderson.

JONES: Right. Um-hm.

PRESTAGE: ----------(??).

JONES: Yeah, right. Um-hm.


BARKER: Mack, I think it's, it's important for us to go back twenty-odd years ago at the Los Angeles meeting of APSA and I think we ought to have some comments about it. Uh, I recall that meeting very vividly because I remember Lucius and I left the meeting and headed up to San Francisco to visit family and we shared a cab ride with a young lady who had just come into the hotel and literally turned around. And that turned out to be Margie Barnett.

JONES: Oh really?

BARKER: Yeah. At the time. Um, what were the things that we were so concerned about at that time that it actually served the germ for the development of an organization where we could view politics from the perspective that we felt that the APSA was not lending?


JONES: You know, I haven't thought about that in so long, and, uh, I can't grasp--remember the details. I do remember, uh, I was involved with a committee of folk who were meeting with, um, the big wheels in APSA. I don't even remember what our demands were. I'm almost embarrassed to say it.

BARKER: I, I think the triggering thing might have been the cut in the graduate fellowships, right?

JONES: Actually--

BARKER: I think that might have been the trigger.

PRESTAGE: I was on the APSA ----------(??) at that time, and it was, uh, [recording error] were made available for the faculty--I mean, for the minority of [recording error]. And a Committee on the Status of Blacks. Just a lot of, uh, of uh--

BARKER: I think Paul Puryea might have been chairing at that time.

PRESTAGE: Paul Puryea was the chair of the Committee on the Status of 01:18:00Blacks, but--

JONES: And I was on that committee at that time, too. What I do remember--see that was the last meeting I attended for probably fifteen or twenty years. I was incensed because whatever the demands were, uh, I had no intentions of meeting with the folk about them. But I was almost drafted to do so and then we came back with the, with the, with the results. I remember Paul and some other people were very critical and they said something to the effect that, um, I guess, if we didn't like what was happening, we shouldn't be there or something. I remember deciding that--at that time, I decided that I was gonna leave and never come back.

PRESTAGE: But let me--I was on the council at that time [recording error] uh, I believe Mack, that our decision in Los Angeles was that 01:19:00we did not want to become a black caucus within the American Political Science Association. When we went into our separate sessions, we decided that we did not want to conduct any kind of, uh, protest at the meeting or that kind of thing that we wanted to concentrate on issues that were important to us. We had our separate sessions there. Persons who wanted to deliver the papers that they had brought were, uh, able to do that, and we decided to essentially let each polit-, uh, African-American political scientist decide on their own course 01:20:00of action as far as APSA was concerned. But we would look forward to developing a separate organization which would be NCOBPS and that is what we would concentrate on. I believe that the, the statement that generated the most rage was the statement that suggested that black people did not support their own organizations and did not give to their own organizations. And this generated, following the conference, an exchange between you and one of the persons who had made that statement at the conference.

JONES: Yeah. I just need to review my files on that because my recollection was that like NCOBPS in my mind, there was never any 01:21:00connection or any possibility of any connection with APSA.

PRESTAGE: But there was the possibility of black political scientists forming a black caucus within APSA. And that possibility was voted down, almost universally by every person present there. And, uh, we decided that NCOBPS would be a separate organization that would have nothing to do with APSA, and the decision with regard to a position on black involvement with APSA, the decision that we made was that that would be a personal, individual decision. And that really was, uh, the, the, uh, status of affairs when we left San Fran-, I mean, left 01:22:00Los Angeles at the end of that meeting.

JONES: I wanna go back and review that. I just remember being incensed, I remember--

PRESTAGE: I also remember--

JONES: --deciding I didn't need that in my life--

PRESTAGE: --that, uh, that before you left, there was an earthquake.

JONES: I remember that. (Barker laughs)

PRESTAGE: All right.

BARKER: Now Mack, you, you were the first president of NCOBPS, as I recall. And--

PRESTAGE: NCOBPS actually developed from the April 1969 meeting on the campus of Southern University. That was the genesis of NCOBPS.

BARKER: And a few years ago, you, I guess, the twentieth anniversary, you read a brilliant paper in which you [recording error] do you recall ----------(??)?

JONES: Yeah. Yeah, as a matter of fact, that's, uh, I guess, one being I actually gave that talk, and giving it probably is, uh, the most 01:23:00satisfying thing I've done in this, in this business, yeah. [recording error] I remember being very pleased with the, the reception--response ----------(??). [recording error] it's still out there, but now I do remember. [recording error]

PRESTAGE: The period [recording error] at Atlanta, you have spent time at Howard University and at Prairie View and you have also, during this same period, uh, remained very active in NCOBPS, and you have continued to challenge NCOBPS. Uh, what, uh, have you seen as the major [recording error] between your professional involvement, and that has been heavily with NCOBPS and your, um, your work [recording error] at these universities.

JONES: I'm not sure if I'm getting the full--


PRESTAGE: [recording error] Well you have used, uh, NCOBPS as a vehicle for challenging your colleagues along certain lines. You have, uh, borne a large share of the responsibility for all kinds of activities in NCOBPS, for, for not only the intellectual leadership, but also for performing certain kinds of housekeeping functions and the like while you were involved in teaching, administration, research at three different universities. Uh, what connections have there been between your work as your institution and the National Conference of Black 01:25:00Political Scientists? In which way, which ways, if any, have they complemented each other? Or have they, uh, been, uh, contradictory at some point?

JONES: Well, I think they've been com-, uh, uh, complementary. Uh, all the things I've tried to do in teaching were in some ways reflected in the sorts of things that, uh, we've tried to get other people to consider through NCOBPS. Um, and my major professional contacts, people that I share ideas with and so forth, are mostly in NCOBPS, and, um, everywhere I've been, the department has had a strong connection with NCOBPS in terms of other faculty members and students being taken to meetings and so forth, so, uh, I really couldn't separate NCOBPS from my own professional--my, my own site work.


PRESTAGE: It has been, as opposed to the, the, uh, the next observation or question Mack, this same kind of symbiotic relationship has not existed between your work at your universities and the American Political Science Association.

JONES: No, to be honest about it, uh, the American Political Science Association hasn't for a long time had really any importance in my own professional life. [recording error] subscribe to the APSA publications for the benefit of the students [recording error] and occasionally PS has something of interest, but I don't think my professional life, uh, [recording error] has been diminished in any way if APSA, uh, didn't exist. Um [recording error] I enjoy when I do 01:27:00go to the meetings, the exchange, the ----------(??) so forth, but it just doesn't [recording error] it's not involved in the things that are important to me, or I think are important to my students.

BARKER: Many people raise that about articles that appear in political, in APSR--all kinds of mathematical formulae--

JONES: [recording error] In fact when I have--well, I've worked at ----------(??). Well if I ever hear anyone who has an important topic they are discussing, refer to something they read in an APSR either in support of something they want to do, or challenging something they want to do. It's like, I think ----------(??) said it, it's like, uh, uh, a deaf man who is, uh, answering questions that no one has raised. And I think that's what you get. That's, that's what I seem to get. 01:28:00Um, even though we have the new caucus and this and that and the other. But they just miss my boat. Uh, and I don't hear anybody with any passion about what they, what they publish.

PRESTAGE: Dr. [recording error] Jones, over the years, you have been engaged in a number of activities as a professional political scientist. Of all of these activities, what would you say have been the most rewarding and gratifying?

JONES: Well, being able to be a part of building the new program at Atlanta. I think, in some ways, uh, I was luckier than anyone has a right to be because you have to be in the right place at the right time, everything else has to fall in place. And, um, the idea of even 01:29:00being able to put on paper what you believe to be an alternative, uh, curriculum would be important. But not only to be able to put it on paper, but to be given the resources to try to actualize it and to be able to attract the kind of people you wanted to because at that time, it was--there were just a lot of very bright, committed young folk who had come to understand that they needed to do things in a different way. And it was no trouble. Alex and Shelby and other folk, to get them to come to Atlanta, and then there were a lot of bright graduate students who had offers to go other places, but who made a decision to come, and it gave us an opportunity to create a community of people with different ideas, and to do things that we all found satisfying, 01:30:00and to earn a decent living at the same time. So, uh, I couldn't, I couldn't imagine having had any better luck.

PRESTAGE: Who have been your principal role models, and the most supportive forces in your life? People, philosophers, movements [recording error] what is that has sustained you [recording error] has?

JONES: [recording error] I really believe it goes back to my early training and, uh, my father. My mother to a lesser degree, but my father was the assertive one. Uh, I [recording error] remember when I was very young, Dad always brought things to the house to read that were challenging. Things like JL (??) Rogers' works, uh, Richard Wright, and at that time I had no idea how--even now, I have no idea 01:31:00how he come to even know these works. But he, and but ----------(??), and he would always talk about these things and always indicated that you had to struggle to change things, that you had to fight. And, um, that's always been a part of me. And I think, uh, that there's nothing that's happened in my life that has had a greater impact than what I sense as what he was and what he expected us to be. Um, and after I got in college, uh, there're a lot of folk, but I think the one who stood out most was Henry Bullock, uh, when I was at Texas Southern. As a matter of fact, I decided to return to Texas Southern mainly to, to work with him. Um, because he was the kind of fellow who--he assumed 01:32:00that, one, you could do first-class work; he demanded that you do it, but he wasn't cavalier about the kind of deficiency that some students had. But he always said, "Well ----------(??) if you're behind, you got to run faster." And if folk would say he's running too fast, he would stop. Explain to them why he couldn't slow down. (laughs) Uh, a really compelling figure and, uh, and he was a first-rate scholar while he was being the dean and whatever else he had to do, and I think [recording error].

BARKER: I, I--as you, as we wind up this, I, I want to at least, uh, raise, uh, the question about your relationship with your brother, who is also a political scientist. Uh, Lucius and I do things together. You and Franklin are political scientists. Uh, I find out that there are an increasing number of people in the same families that are in the 01:33:00same discipline.

JONES: Um-hm.

BARKER: And, uh, I assume you, as the older--


BARKER: --is the inspiration for him?

JONES: Yeah, as a matter of fact, I supervised both his M.A. and his Ph.D.

BARKER: Ph.D. thesis.

JONES: Um-hm. Yeah. I think so. I think--well, Franklin and I are a lot alike, uh, and, um, I don't think we ever had the kind of, uh, well, I'm a good bit older than he is. I can't remember for sure now, but, uh, I think he always sort of looked up to me like a big brother, we never had any kind of sibling rivalry sort of thing. [recording error] and the chances of having common in some ways. I, I've always wanted to do something with him, I think I will at some point. We haven't done it yet. But we have a good relationship and we talk and share ideas. But, my son also is in political science, now he should be writing a dissertation--

[Pause in recording.]


PRESTAGE: --Mack H. Jones, July 15, 1994 in Atlanta, Georgia. I am Jewel Prestage.

BARKER: And I am Twiley Barker, conducting the interview.

PRESTAGE: Dr. Jones, you have quite a bit of political science, social science teaching, research, uh, intellectual activity as a part of your household. I find a visit to the Jones household rather stimulating. Uh, would you tell us a little bit about your family, your wife, the economist; your son, the political scientist; your, uh, daughter, the classical scholar; and, uh, young Beau, uh, who is all things to all 01:35:00people.

JONES: I should actually back up and thank political science. That's where I met my wife, going to grad school. Uh, I had a major in political science and a minor in economics, and she had just the reverse. So we met in, uh, Charlie Kneier, uh--

BARKER: Municipal government.

JONES: --municipal government. That's right, sure did. And then we had Monypenny's course together. But, uh, it's, it's been fun, you know, having a wife who is in the same area. Uh, uh, [recording error] I don't know, uh, what more to say about that except that, uh, it means that you gotta together when you make your arguments around the house. Uh, [recording error] my older son, who is now finishing a dissertation 01:36:00at Iowa--I hope he does finish it--but, uh, he's interested in African politics and, believe it or not, public administration which I always found to be the least rewarding of the sub-fields. And, uh, Tiarry who is just finishing a master's at Iowa in literature and English is interested in women's literature and black women's literature and Caribbean women's literature, and, uh, Beaumonty, the little fellow who's thirteen, we all can see that he is the brightest person in the house. We all can see except Tiarry, that, uh, she's still fighting. But, uh, [recording error] and I think, uh, it makes for an exciting household, both for us and for people who come to visit. But, uh, I've been very pleased with the way my family life has turned out.


PRESTAGE: Well [recording error] it's now time, I think to invite you to make your valedictory statement as a part of this interview, but, uh, before we move on to that, I want to say that it has been a pleasure for me to watch, interact with, and, uh, participate in your transition from an undergraduate student to a highly achieving professional. That has been a joy and I suppose one of the greatest joys associated with that overall big joy is your commitment to intellectual integrity, 01:38:00to vigorous pursuit of truth, and your willingness to take the risks involved in it. That has been admirable, but even more admirable is the fact that you always tend to find your way back from any adverse occurrence in your life. You seem to have, uh, really, almost as much luck as W.E.B DuBois in the pursuit of truth as a lifelong commitment. And if I have any challenge to offer to you as we end this interview, it is the challenge of remaining constant over time. And, uh, Dr. 01:39:00Barker?

BARKER: I found this a very exciting interview. Mack has always impressed me as being a real scholar and a gentleman and I would assume that ten, fifteen, twenty years from now, when young political scientists are digging through the archives at, uh, Lexington or wherever these tapes and transcripts might be; they will find some very inspirational things that have come out of this interview. Mack, it's, it's been good having you as a colleague in the profession, and knowing you as a friend.

JONES: Thank you. Thank you. I've enjoyed knowing you and Jewel, and all our other colleagues.

[End of interview.]