Interview with Ella Jones

August 19, 2020

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Few public officials today have a connection to the social justice movement of today quite like Ella Jones, Mayor of Ferguson, MO. After spending the early part of her adult life in the private sector as well as immersed in the Church, she underwent an evolution of purpose after one of America’s most infamous incidents of deadly police misconduct, and this engaging episode follows her footsteps to the forefront of local politics.

2:34 Forged in Ferguson
The case of Mike Brown was a traumatic incident for much of the nation, and for residents of Jones´ Missouri hometown in particular. After extensive news coverage of this murder of an unarmed cvilian at the hands of local law enforcement, the verdict absolving the officers of the clear murder delivered a seismic shock to the small city. The future politician recalls urgent warnings from family members to leave Ferguson in an attempt to escape the forthcoming civil unrest, and her eventual decision to stay and shape her environment.

3:53 The Path to Public Service
By 2015, just months after the Mike Brown murder, Jones followed her heart into the field of politics, an arena where she possessed no prior experience. The road to her position was one with plenty of unexpected twists, and here she recounts her long journey from chemistry to the cloth and on to public service, describing the joy she found in each of these endeavors along the way, as well as the experience of becoming an entrepreneur through direct sales.

5:11 New Beginnings
Perhaps the defining influence in Mayor Jones´ commitment to public service was the death of her husband in the fall of 2013. Losing interest in her business, she found a new fire in the form of civic life, running for City Council after being encouraged by friends and neighbors to turn her passion to the pursuit of a better future for Ferguson.

7:00 A Vision for the City
Ella Jones recalls having eyes on the mayoral suite from the time she transitioned to politics, noting that she would have never run for office if not with intent to reach City Hall. Her ascension from first black female member of Ferguson City council to the city´s highest ranking office–during one of the its most turbulent periods–stands as a testament to her resolve. Mayor Jones looks back at the beginning of her time in the position, relating the  challenges involved with establishing herself as Ferguson’s premier political force.

11:23 Real Representation
The city of Ferguson has long had a predominantly black population, but as Mayor Jones´ June 2020 election as the city´s first black mayor highlights, the makeup of leadership has never reflected residential demographics. She speaks on the importance of representation for vulnerable segments of society, and the positive impact that inclusive, community driven solutions can bring to cities like hers.

13:29 A Recurring Nightmare
The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police just weeks ago drew obvious parallels to the day that catalyzed her political career. Mayor Jones describes her emotions watching the footage, with the callous nature of the officers involved during the nearly 9-minute video making a particularly strong impression on her. She also details the following days and nights in Ferguson, where residents were again driven to unrest by echoes of police brutality, and offers some of her outlook on the demonstrations that rage on from coast to coast.

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