A children’s book that tells the story of early 20th-century black lawyer Scipio Africanus Jones will be published by the University of Arkansas Press.
Patricia Kienzle of Fayetteville, who founded and has volunteered for 20 years at the Lee Street Community Center in Elaine, wrote the book, “Scipio Africanus Jones, Both Intelligent and Wise.” Candace Dolls of Helena-West Helena drew the illustrations.
The book was initially printed as a little paperback with a grant from Arkansas’s Black History Commission. It’s geared toward students on 4th to 6th grade reading levels.
The book tells the story of Jones, who was born into slavery near Tulip (Dallas County) to a 15-year-old slave raped by her white owner. He graduated from high school in Little Rock, and after the UA law school rejected him because he was black, he became apprenticed to a white judge. He read the law and passed the bar.
Jones had a significant and successful career in civil rights litigation, but his most celebrated case was his defense of the 12 men convicted of murder in sham trials that followed the Elaine massacre, which the children’s book tells in simple form.
Kienzle — also known as the “pickle lady” and the instigator of a children’s project that sells painted birdhouses in Elaine — became familiar with the events in the small Phillips County community several years after she began volunteering there. She and others, including black minister George Andrew Gibson, are creating Turning Point Park in Elaine, with musical instruments, a “Together Tree” and featuring a door from a 1905 one-room schoolhouse for blacks. An event will be held there Sept. 28, the day before the dedication of the memorial in Helena-West Helena.