“We Gave Birth or Furnished the Children…”

Women Citizens Concerns
This letter from the “Citizens Committee” begins, “As women citizens and mothers of Gainesville, Alachua County, Florida, we make the following appeal to you.” The letter, written by a select group of African American women, was addressed to A Quinn Jones after he refused to reappoint a female teacher without notice.

I hesitated to write a digital field note on this subject, just as I am sure these women hesitated to challenge the refusal of this woman’s reappointment. As I assume these women did, especially given the time period in which this challenge was brought, I was wary of presenting information that would cast AQJ in a negative light. Still, he was human, and this letter represents more than outrage, but a community within a community, particularly a group of double minorities attempting to take a stand to protect their purportedly marginalized sister against a minority with a unique position.
The organizational format in which the issues were presented in the letter, including appeals to liberty, womanhood and the implicit duties owed by the school to the community, as a support system mutually dependant upon one another, allowed the women to make the appeal with very little reference to the women who were hurt by AQJ’s decision. I enjoyed seeing a group of women take such a strong stance for young women, but I also questioned AQJ’s reasoning for refusing to re-appoint the women as teachers, which, other than by his citing to his duty to protect his students, was not very clear.

 

A Quinn Jones’ Old Bag
An old, brown, leather briefcase with a dark handle rests in box 40. Its top flap has lightened and worn leather and one of its two buckles has an upward curl. Both of these abnormalities seem to be from its extensive use, and the initials of A.Q.J. on the front of the briefcase, along with the note attached to it, identify the owner as A Quinn Jones. The note reads, “Professor A. Quinn Jones carried this briefcase every day to work. He would be seen walking to work from his 7th Avenue home with briefcase in hand to start the school day”. After seeing the bag and reading the note, I immediately attempted to visualize AQJ walking down the street at dawn. Since cell phones weren’t available at the time, I pictured him walking with his chin up, and browsing his surroundings, acknowledging and embracing everyone he encountered.
The fact that students openly witnessed A Quinn Jones walk from home to school each day, with briefcase in tow, speak to the nature of his community at the time, and the thin line between home and school. It can be assumed that he was not concerned with parents, teachers or students knowing his address, and he did not mind carrying his materials in hand on a sidewalk. The school was deeply connected to the community it sat within and as a result of his position as leader of the school, A Quinn Jones took platform as a leader of his community. I think this artifact gives off a sense of AQJ’s pride and honor to be leading his community in such a way.