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Collection 371 Oral History Interview with C.J. Jones

Identifier: CN 371

Scope and Contents

Oral history interview with Cornelius Jerome "C.J." Jones about his childhood, work with the civil rights movement, John Perkins and the Voice of Calvary, Dolphus Weary and The Mendenhall Ministries, his philosophy of ministry, the impact of TMM on the community, and racial conditions in Mississippi. The time period covered by the interview is 1944 to 1987.

C. J. Jones was interviewed by Paul Ericksen on June 25, 1987, at the Mendenhall Ministries office in Mendenhall, Mississippi.


  • Created: 1987

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

Cornelius Jerome Jones, known as "C. J.," was born in 1944 in Pennsylvania, where he lived with his grandparents. His grandfather was active in the United Mine Workers Union and they were the only black family in their small town. His grandparents provided a Christian home and strong role models, especially his grandfather. When his grandfather became ill, C.J. moved to New Jersey to be with his mother, who worked for the Manville Company while living in housing provided by the company. Again, they were the only black family in the community. He and his mother did not regularly attend church because they could not attend the white churches nearby and they did not have transportation to the closest but still distant black church.

Jones soon encountered racial hostility, especially in high school. While he excelled in sports, he discovered that the full sports college scholarships went largely to white students. Jones responded to this exclusion with frustration and bitterness, began running around with a rough crowd, and was arrested. With the help of some caring adults, he was able to attend Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Confronted here with other ideas about race, Jones joined the civil rights movement, later dropping out of school to join the movement full time. Jones rejected his Christian faith due to disillusionment with the hypocrisy he saw in the church.

Jones then went to work for Mary Holmes Junior College in northern Mississippi as the assistant to the vice-president for development and later he began his own business. Through the testimony of a Christian friend, he recaptured his earlier faith and became involved in a church community. He was subsequently invited to join the work of the Mendenhall Ministries in Mendenhall, Mississippi. In 1987, his job description was somewhat open-ended, illustrated by the variety of tasks he oversaw: accounting, planning projects, managing personnel, writing publicity, working with the youth and summer enrichment programs, and coordinating volunteers.


2.00 Audio Tapes

88 Minutes

Language of Materials