Mosaic Templars Cultural Center opens exhibit

LITTLE ROCK – The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center (MTCC) announces the opening of “The Arc of Justice: The Life and Legacy of S.A. Jones.”  The exhibit will be available to the public Tuesday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., through May 31, at MTCC, at 501 W. Ninth Street in Little Rock. Admission to the museum and the exhibit is free.

The exhibit explores the life of Scipio Africanus Jones, a prominent lawyer in Little Rock

The family of Scipio Jones attends the opening reception for “The Arc of Justice: The Life & Legacy of S.A. Jones.”

during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Jones successfully defended 12 Black men who were condemned to be executed following the Elaine Massacre in 1919.

Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism Secretary Mike Mills said, “It takes grit and determination to do what this man did to achieve real justice in Arkansas. I am proud that we can share the legacy of Scipio Jones with the people of our state thanks to the important work going on at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center.”

S.A. Jones was born to an enslaved woman, Jemmima Jones, in 1863 near Tulip in Dallas County. Jones completed his primary education around Tulip, but later graduated from Walden Seminary (now Philander Smith College) and Bethel Institute (now Shorter College). He studied law and taught public school for four years, after which his credentials were accepted by the Arkansas Supreme Court in 1900 and the U.S. Supreme Court in 1905. 

“The story of Arkansas is the story of those who sought justice in the face of overwhelming adversity. No one exemplifies that more than Scipio Jones,” said Jimmy Bryant, Arkansas Heritage director. “This exhibit is a profound reminder of the imperative that we all have to stand up for what is right.” 

Jones remained in Little Rock and practiced law until his death in 1943. His most significant case came in 1919, when he defended 12 Black men sentenced to death in what has come to be known as the Elaine Massacre. In addition to freeing the “Elaine Twelve,” Jones dedicated his life to ending racial violence and to working for equality. (Source: Encyclopedia of Arkansas)

“Scipio A. Jones was a towering figure for justice who fought tirelessly to end racial violence and inequity in Arkansas,” said Quantia “Key” Fletcher, MTCC museum director. “His legacy continues to move the needle for African Americans in law and politics. Everyone should know his name, and after touring this exhibit, they will.”

“The Arc of Justice: The Life and Legacy of S.A. Jones” focuses on Jones’ extraordinary work both in and out of the courtroom and will provide guests a comprehensive look at his incredible accomplishments for justice.