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Jones School through the Decades: Remembering a Community


Saturday June 10, 2023: 10:00am to Thursday August 31, 2023: 8:00pm


Downtown Library: 2nd Floor Exhibit


Students walk in front of school building carrying signs
Jones School Students Ready To Distribute Posters For The Red Cross, February 1950

Jones School was an anchor of Ann Arbor’s largest historically Black neighborhood. Many Ann Arbor residents remember attending Jones School from kindergarten through ninth grade. They walked to school from nearby homes on Kingsley, Beakes, Summit, Fourth and Fifth Avenue. They made friends, sang in the choir, and played baseball on the playground. In the 1950s Jones became an elementary school, serving kindergarten through sixth grade.

Jones School’s student population was diverse, reflecting the neighborhood’s Black, Greek, and immigrant residents. As Ann Arbor’s population grew in the 1940s and 50s, more and more Black students attended Jones. Racist housing practices prevented their families from buying homes outside the North-Central area. Despite these challenges, Jones students remember how their parents and elders created a strong, supportive community.

Civil rights activists who fought for fair housing and equal rights in the 1950s and 60s also fought for the desegregation of Ann Arbor’s schools. Although Jones School was not segregated by law, a 1964 study found that 75% of its students were Black. Because students at Jones were not performing as well as students at predominantly-white schools, parents and activists pressured the Ann Arbor Board of Education to take action.

After the 1964-65 school year, the Board voted to close Jones Elementary School. Approximately 175 students were split up and bused to six different schools around Ann Arbor. These students had to adapt to a new school environment, and they were often the only Black child in their classroom. The Jones building became a preschool, and community groups met there for music, dance, and other extracurricular activities. Several years later the building reopened as Community High School.

The legacy of Jones School and its changing neighborhood continues to resonate today for many Ann Arbor residents. Current projects commemorating this history are featured at the end of this exhibit.

To learn more about Jones School, visit