Jamila Jones oral history interview conducted by Joseph Mosnier in Atlanta, Georgia, 2011-04-27.
JM: Um-hmm. Um, when the boycott concluded and some measure of success was realized, in some measure on that narrow question of busing, what was your feeling?
JJ: It was a joyous feeling, of course. And no longer we felt that we had to take the abuse, uh, that we had experienced on those buses since I was six years old, because I started to ride the bus at age six and had done that to age eleven.
And we found our ways to survive through that. Uh, it was piercing to see adults have to leave, uh, the bus and go around to pay their money, and then get off the bus and come to the back of the, uh, bus. Uh, I almost never had to do that, because we were the first stop, so we always found ourselves with a seat.
But curious as we were, there were times we tested to see what would happen if we sat in the front of the bus. And we did, and, uh, then they would ask us, of course - when one white lady got on the bus - I can never forget her. She had red hair, long hair, and when she entered the bus, we would have to get up, even though, um, there were a number of seats, and she was the only white to get on that bus. So, I think that was so piercing to us that it nev - I never forgot it. And, uh, when the bus boycott started, of course, that lived within me, and I knew that I would walk three hundred and what - however many days, actually, that, uh, it would take. And to a six-year-old, you just basically are so curious about why is it that we have to get up, that often I would sit behind her and, uh, she would choose the same seat each time she got on the bus.
JM: This white woman?
JJ: This white, uh, woman. I don’t know her name. I just remember her face and her red hair. But when she got on the bus, I decided, uh, several times to just feel her hair, to see if I could put my little fingers, uh, on the top of the seat to see if it was a difference. What is the difference with her and the rest of us? And I did. I would just kind of feel that hair like it was an accident. I don’t know what I concluded from that, except that it just gave me a feeling that, uh, I feel she’s really no different. This hair is not so much different from ours. And, um, that was just my little childhood curiosity and how I answered it.
JM: Sure. [Clears throat]
JJ: Uh, so that just that one white lady put such, uh, curiosity in me. And I wanted to answer that so much that I, uh, knew that I was going to walk the length of the time it would take for us to get to, uh, our goal.
JM: Yeah. Um, when and how did you start singing?