Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones questioned over 1957 photo

Race in America

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KARK) – Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones faced questions over a photo that captured him in a group of white students appearing to block a group of Black students into North Little Rock High School in 1957.

The picture was taken by an Associated Press photojournalist in the same year that federal troops were being deployed to Little Rock Central High School.

Jones, an Arkansas native, was a teenager and a sophomore at North Little Rock High School.

The Washington Post published a story Wednesday with the photo, prompting questions from reporters after Jones’ Cowboys won against the New York Giants on Thanksgiving.

“Look, that was 65 years ago, and I had no idea when I walked up there, what we were doing,” Jones, now 80,said. “That was, gosh, 65 years ago, a curious kid.”

Defiant white students at Arkansas’ North Little Rock High School block the doors of the school, denying access to six African-American students enrolled in the school Sept. 9, 1957. Moments later the African American students were shoved down a flight of stairs and onto the sidewalk, where city police broke up the altercation. (AP Photo/William P. Straeter)

Jones said he showed up to see what was going on, not to participate in the growing mob.

“I didn’t know at the time the monumental event, really, that was going on and I’m sure glad that we’re a long way from that,” Jones said. “Nobody there had any idea,frankly, what was going to take place.”

The Cowboys are one of seven NFL teams that have not had a Black head coach, according to ESPN. Jones has complied with the Rooney Rule, meaning his team has interviewed minority candidates. In 2020, before hiring now-head coach Mike McCarthy, Jones interviewed Marvin Lewis, the former head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, ESPN reports.

Jones has defended his hiring decisions saying they’re made for business reasons, not race.

(Photo courtesy of The Associated Press)

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