I wish Maddy Heymann and her fellow Black Lives Matter protesters in Southlake could meet Jinks Jones. It’s impossible. Maddy, 21, grew up in Southlake and is devoted to her town. But Jones, who owned one of Texas’ first integrated restaurants there with his family, died almost 40 years ago.
Maddy is a graduate of Southlake’s Carroll High School. She calls her city “privileged.” Southlake is one of Texas’ wealthiest cities, but she says it’s “an extremely closed off, isolated society that doesn’t give you perspective of the real world.”
“It is ever so wonderful if you’re white,” she adds, “and ever so challenging if you’re not.”
How does she know that? Maddy, a white college student, recently conducted a survey in Southlake about racism. She learned from 360 students and alumni who responded that incidents of racist behavior in the renowned school district are more frequent than most people know. She counted more than 800 stories detailing incidents.
She presented her survey findings in public meetings last month to both the Southlake City Council and the Carroll ISD board.
When she contacted The Watchdog to tell me about her project, I asked if she knew about Jinks Jones and his family. She didn’t, so I told her what I know.
Jinks was the son of a former slave, Bob Jones, an original settler, widely respected, whom Southlake truly honored by naming Bob Jones Park and Bob Jones Nature Center & Preserve after him.
Jinks and his brother Emory, both Black, owned a restaurant on State Highway 114 and White’s Chapel Road next to their livestock auction barn. They are not remembered the way their father is, but they and their wives should be.
When their café opened in 1949, it quickly evolved into one of the first integrated restaurants in Texas.
In 1949, Black people and white people were kept separate in Texas and elsewhere. Black people drank from different water fountains than white people. They went to separate schools, sat apart in movie theaters and weren’t allowed to eat in white-owned restaurants or stay at most hotels.
The restaurant was run by Jinks’ wife, Lula, and Emory’s wife, Elnora. Jinks’ daughter, Betty Foreman, told me what it was like in a 2003 interview.
The café was a little white building beside the auction barn. There were big windows in the front. Inside, there was a long counter with red stools. There were small tables and a jukebox.
“The way it started,” Foreman told me, “is Black truck drivers would stop on the road. They would come to the back door and ask if they could have a soda or sandwich. My mother would say, ‘We will serve you in the front door.’”
“I don’t want to get you in trouble,” she recalls truckers saying.
“This is a family-owned business,” her mother replied. “I’ll serve who I want.”
Foreman continued: “Even though we had white waitresses, Mama would come out of the kitchen and wait on them. After a few weeks, the white waitresses would wait on them. They never thought anything about it. It’s just something Lula wanted done.”
White people sat side by side with Black people. “The Black truckers couldn’t believe it. They’d sit there and look all around. They didn’t know if they were going to be snatched out and lynched,” she said. “It was like they were on another planet.
“They’d sit at the counter, and here comes this old cowboy chewing tobacco, and he’d sit down on the stool next to them and say, ‘How are you doing?’ And then he’d order his red beans or chili and go on.
“It is amazing. That’s kind of the way it was. It was just something that was done, and nobody complained and nobody made any fuss about it.”
Create a sculpture?
When I first researched this story in 2003, I had a big idea. I proposed a sculpture honoring the café. I even talked to Brian Stebbins, the creator of Southlake Town Square. He loved the idea.
I talked to Deran Wright, a nationally known sculptor in Richland Hills. He created The Sleeping Panther of Fort Worth in downtown Fort Worth and Frolicking Pixies in Prather Park in Highland Park, among many others.
Wright came up with a sketch that I loved. It shows Jinks passing a plate of food across a counter. On the other side are two empty stools, which people could sit on, becoming a part of the sculpture. The sign says, “All were welcome.”
Stebbins died in 2012, and I didn’t pursue the idea. But I didn’t forget. If I could propose it again, I’d have to change it a bit. Anita Robeson of the Southlake Historical Society tells me the statue should show the wives behind the counter because Elnora and Lula did all the work. Noted.
Passing the story on
That was Maddy’s reaction when I told her about the café. “I had no idea of the history of that corner,” she said. “A few students and I are planning a community celebration of Pride Month and Black Lives Matter. I think I will incorporate this into parts of my speech.”
And that’s what she did. A week ago, about 60 young people, mostly members of a “Progressive Activism Club” forming in Carroll schools, gathered in Southlake Town Square’s gazebo. Maddy was the first speaker.
“It was the first, guys,” she informed her audience about the café. “Southlake has a history of being the first in something other than sports. We consider ourselves the best, and we can be. But that means looking at our past to lead us into the future.
“We could be the leaders in Texas. We could be the community that breaks the stereotypes. We can be the community that had the first integrated café. But we have to keep pushing.”
Jinks Jones and his family will never meet Maddy and the young people forming the progressive club, celebrating Pride Month and taking part in Black Lives Matter protests. But it’s important that these activists learn about the ones who came before them, the ones who made change, the ones who mattered.