NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – As part of the 5th Annual Back to School with the HistoryMakers, TSU alumnus and HistoryMaker inductee, Dr. Bobby Jones, spoke to education majors from the University about the importance of education and the opportunities it presents.
“Education is the practice of becoming,” he told the more than 100 students in Paog Auditorium September 26. “It (education) will provide the basis of all your future opportunities and a way to give back to others,” added Jones, who graduated from TSU at age 19 with a bachelor’s degree in education.
Jones was on campus as part of the 5th Annual Back to School with the HistoryMakers, a national program that puts black leaders in direct contact with young people across the nation. It encourages commitment to student achievement, as well as brings African American leaders into schools to motivate students, and raise awareness of the achievements of accomplished African Americans in their communities.
Jones, who went on to earn a master’s degree, also from TSU, and an Ed.D. degree from Vanderbilt University, and later a Th.D. degree from Payne’s Theological Seminary, said that “anything worth having is worth working for.”
“Think forward and never give up on a dream, but remember to do the work,” he said, adding, “Laziness will not get you anywhere.”
Jones was recently inducted into the HistoryMakers that recognizes individual “Makers” in a noted field, such as the arts, business, law, politics, style, science and sports. He was inducted as a “MusicMaker,” a category that consists of individuals who compose, perform, and promote music.
During the hour-long presentation, Jones explained to those gathered, that education, specifically the one he received at TSU, changed his life, and “opened doors I never thought were possible.”
All he knew once he graduated high school at age 15 in Henry, Tennessee, he explained, was picking cotton and plowing fields. With no college preparation, he headed to Nashville to start working on his four-year college degree.
“My education at TSU provided me options,” said Jones. “It set me on a course for a lifestyle and can do the same for you. Remember that when you’re educated, you learn a set of skills for a lifetime, and that is something no one can take away.”
He told the students about his career as a teacher in the in the St. Louis Public Schools and the Nashville Metropolitan School system, a textbook consultant for McGraw Hill Publishers, and as an instructor at Tennessee State University from 1974 to 1986.
As a teacher, Jones explained how he helped develop the idea for a Black Expo in Nashville. During that effort, he introduced the pilot for what became “Bobby Jones Gospel” to WSM-TV in Nashville. That program eventually made it to Black Entertainment Television, and became his “crown jewel” of accomplishments, having run for 34 years as the longest running program on cable television, and revolutionized the gospel music industry.
“It all started somewhere and it all started here at TSU,” said Jones. “I am a graduate of this University and at age 19 I discovered how to function in the world with the skills I received here. I am no different than you. You have the same opportunities.”
As a member of HistoryMakers, Jones joins the likes of poet Maya Angelou, actor Roscoe Lee Brown, baseball great Ernie Banks, and acclaimed vocalists Nancy Wilson, Mary Wilson, and Bebe Winans, among others.
The Back to School program began in 2010 with 200 HistoryMakers in 107 schools in 50 cities in 25 states. In 2011, the program more than doubled – bringing 458 HistoryMakers into 286 schools in 112 cities in 35 states. Participating HistoryMakers represent a diverse range of professional backgrounds, from artists, musicians, and business leaders to politicians, religious leaders, and scientists.
The HistoryMakers is committed to preserving and making widely accessible the untold personal stories of both well-known and unsung African Americans. The goal is to preserve the oral history of 5,000 African American history makers, and to establish an online database that will educate and show the breadth and depth of the accomplishments of individual African Americans across a variety of disciplines.
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About Tennessee State University
With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 42 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.