Fred Jones highlights ‘Legend of Simpson’ Lecture Series


Fred Jones – Photo provided by Ethan Humble

by Ethan Humble, Staff Reporter

In the second of five lectures in the ‘Legends of Simpson’ Lecture Series, former sociology and criminal justice professor Fred Jones spoke on Feb. 2 about the traditions and history of race in society in “Race and the Shackles of Tradition.”

In the excerpt provided by the Simpson website, Jones is described as “an expert in his field and a true legend of Simpson College.”

“I had some wonderful professors and colleagues over my time at Simpson,” Jones said. “Over my 77 years, 54 have been associated with Simpson in some way.”

The former professor spoke to a Zoom meeting of just over 100 attendees largely about how every person’s uniqueness makes them a positive contribution to the community around them.

“Culture is our greatest gift in this world,” Jones said. “It is truly what makes us all unique and sets one person apart from another.”

Jones then discussed how there is an abundance of evidence that past treatment of individuals has depended largely on their race. The former professor mentioned how even a Simpson alumnus as distinguished as George Washington Carver was rejected from many colleges due to his African American descent.

“Historically, there are many efforts taken to disadvantage Black community members,” Jones said. “This includes both our political and criminal justice systems.”

The legend then continued his lecture by discussing the growing Black Lives Matter movement, and the true meaning behind their work.

“Black Lives Matter argues that white lives have been treated differently than Black ones historically,” Jones said. “They are not indicating they are superior to whites.”

When asked during a question and answer what his thoughts are about how white supremacy has dominated American culture, Jones pointed to leadership as the main source of the problem.

“Political environment and ineffective leadership have encouraged this,” Jones said. “We must get to a place where we can communicate effectively and understand everyone’s story.”

Assistant Director of Admissions Dave Williams attended the lecture and spoke highly of the professor of 50 years despite never having Jones as a professor during his time as a Simpson student.

“I had the opportunity to work with him a little bit when I started in the admissions office and always enjoyed our interactions,” Williams said. “He was very intelligent but never came across as condescending and always willing to have a conversation.”

Williams also said that attending the lecture opened his mind to thinking more deeply about these critical issues that our world is facing today.

“My biggest takeaway is how important it is for me personally and professionally to continue to educate myself on topics of this nature,” Williams said. “There is a lot I don’t know but I am willing to prioritize these opportunities to continue to grow individually.”

Jones closed his lecture with a quote from famous English Anglican Cleric John Newton as a way he has lived his life up to this point: “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world, but I am still not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.”

The next speaker in the ‘Legends of Simpson’ Lecture Series is former political science professor John Epperson. He will be presenting “A More Perfect Union? The Electoral College in an Age of Polarization” on Feb. 16 at noon.