Artist and activist Buddy Jones wins Marjorie Brandon Award

Artist and activist Buddy Jones wins Marjorie Brandon Award

Buddy Jones is a Renaissance man. He carves wooden, performs drums, builds roads, rebuilds rocks, teaches at Synanon, works for civil rights, meets well-known folks, and is devoted to cultural range and group activism.

He’ll obtain the Marjorie Brandon Award on November 5. That is the primary yr that Marjorie is not going to be on the celebration. A widely known native artist, she died in August, only a month earlier than her a hundred and tenth birthday. The award is introduced yearly in his identify to a long-time native artist who additionally goes above and past the scope of his artwork for the advantage of the group.

Buddy Jones matches the invoice. Plus, he is a delicate large.

But it surely has not at all times been so.

When he was enjoying soccer at San Diego State for John Madden, the soon-to-be-famous NFL coach, Madden advised him, “Jones, you gotta cease hurting folks.”

He was not speaking about his teammates, however in regards to the whites.

“I used to be mad and hostile, so I hit white folks,” he stated.

poor and black

Raised poor and black within the East Los Angeles ghetto, Buddy was the center of 9 kids. Her father, Buster, was a rubbish collector with a third-grade schooling. However he was a self-taught, intuitive grasp mechanic. Ultimately he stop his job as a junk picker and opened Buster’s Auto Store, the place he gained a repute as one of the best mechanic in Riverside.

Subsequent to the store was a Muslim temple the place Buddy met Malcolm X. In the future Muhammad Ali visited him.

Buddy’s mom, Geraldine, ran a home (a “three-room shack”, Buddy recalled) by which profanity was forbidden; good manners had been revered. The entire household sat down for dinner each day, some perched on crates as a result of there weren’t sufficient chairs for everybody.

“We by no means considered ourselves as poor,” Buddy stated. “We simply did not have some huge cash.”

When he arrived in school, Buddy was marked as “sluggish”. Nobody knew about dyslexia then. Thankfully, he had allure and was a pure chief (in highschool he was unofficially named the most well-liked scholar) and an excellent athlete.

Civil rights

The civil rights motion was starting, and whereas in highschool, Buddy attended the primary civil rights convention on the West Coast. It came about in Asilomar and the keynote speaker was Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I had discovered to play drums to a point, and a guitarist requested me to play alongside along with her,” Buddy stated.

Afterwards, Martin and Coretta Scott King requested Buddy and the guitarist – who turned out to be Joan Baez – to take a seat down at their desk.

A number of years later, Baez’s supervisor known as to ask Buddy to do just a few gigs along with her, however he turned her down. It was soccer season.

Just a few years handed and Buddy attended a writers workshop with Bob Dylan and Baez. She remembered him. “I did not know you had been such a sportsman,” she advised him.

school and soccer

Though academics advised him not to consider school, he went to varsity and bought soccer scholarships to play in San Jose State and San Diego State.

Whereas in school, Buddy married Shirley Keller, now an artist at Three Rivers. That they had two bi-racial boys, however nobody was prepared to supply them with lodging.

The coaches helped the younger household discover housing and get jobs as stay-at-home mother and father at a residence for younger offenders. Buddy’s measurement and physique helped keep self-discipline.

“The mystique of being a soccer participant helped,” laughed Buddy.

Later, the household used a brand new honest housing legislation to drive a landlord to hire a home to them.

It was laborious for an interracial household to really feel secure. Even their younger, half-black son had a destructive view of African People. Medicine and violence had been turning into increasingly more essential.

The Joneses found a brand new institution known as Synanon, the place all ethnicities had been welcome. It was the primary main drug remedy program in america to make use of a controversial however efficient strategy to robust love.

Buddy was one of many solely black (non-addicted) “squares”. There he discovered to play “The Recreation”. In The Recreation, everybody talked about their insecurities and traumas whereas others attacked them verbally, making an attempt to cut back their vulnerability.

“It was cathartic. I noticed I did not really feel offended anymore.

Buddy modeled, taught faculty, constructed roads and held many positions throughout his 19 years there.

However this system was starting to deteriorate, and Buddy and his new spouse, Lori, moved to Lemon Cove and began a development enterprise.

$30 million in enterprise

The corporate began small, however Buddy Jones Contracting has grown into one of many largest and most seen black-owned companies, finishing main development tasks in Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite Nationwide Parks over the course of the next decade. Between 1994 and 2003, the corporate grew from two to 65 workers and grossed over $30 million.

“The work I am most pleased with is the restoration of the Big Forest and the additions to Wuksachi Village, one among Sequoia’s foremost customer facilities,” Buddy stated.

After finishing this work in Sequoia Nationwide Park in 2001, Buddy met President George Bush when he got here to reopen the park. As they shook fingers, the president congratulated Buddy on his work.

Buddy stated, “I hope you retain your promise to maintain placing cash into the park.

The president replied, “Properly, if I do not, you possibly can fireplace me.”

Artwork & percussion

Buddy began enjoying drums at an early age, however when he met knowledgeable native drummer Keio Ogama and her husband, grasp drummer Wadaba Kourouma from Guinea, West Africa, Keio advised him, Buddy, you’ve a superb tempo, however you are all over the place. .

“I discovered the drums. Every little thing you do means one thing,” he stated.

Buddy now leads a drumming circle on the Heritage Cultural Basis. He has organized drumming circles on the Middle for Non secular Residing, the ImagineU Kids’s Museum and wherever he’s invited.

He has at all times cherished wooden and development. He began carving on wooden he present in Synanon, the place folks practiced all types of artwork. Her backyard is stuffed with her creations. He’ll discover a piece of wooden and “learn” it to see the way it must be carved.

He salvaged wooden from outdated packing homes and a cotton mill and used it for his porch and artwork tasks.

His most up-to-date venture is to carve an outdated tree stump on the southeast nook of Essential and Church in Visalia, which is able to grow to be a everlasting public paintings.

And he’s a part of “We Artwork”, a multicultural present scheduled for Might at Arts Visalia.

Group activist

Buddy has at all times been concerned in the neighborhood. He helped begin the Tulare County African American Ladies’s Affiliation, the Optimistic Black Man Affiliation, and the Fresno Black Chamber of Commerce.

He volunteered on the Whitman Middle for years, constructed the semi-circle driveway and landscaped Grandma’s home in Tulare.

He constructed a whole Amtrack practice touchdown in Allensworth when the group was going to have an enormous Juneteenth occasion. Trains nonetheless cease there on particular events.

Buddy Jones & Buddies is a group group devoted to cultural range and group activism. Lots of Buddy’s actions fall below this heading. The group sends rice to Africa. Buddy additionally takes teams to Allensworth and Sequoia Nationwide Park, introducing folks of colour to locations they’ve typically by no means seen.

Now he is closely concerned with TOTA, a storytelling web site that connects folks throughout tradition. has over 4,000 tales about folks from completely different cultures, amassing them earlier than they’re misplaced. There are a selection of tales about Buddy.

There may be extra

This story is already too lengthy, however Buddy’s record of accomplishments goes on: his suggestion helped get San Diego State dormitories. He helped create the primary black scholar union there. He was a climber within the Excessive Sierras. He was a part of the Lemon Cove Volunteer Fireplace Division. He was hailed as a hero when he saved a close-by boy from a hearth. His outsourcing enterprise was nominated for Small Enterprise of the 12 months by the California Black Chamber of Commerce.

He met different well-known folks, resembling boxer Archie Moore, claimed actors Ozzie Davis and his spouse, Ruby Dee, and Cesar Chavez, as associates.

Buddy nonetheless shakes his head when he says, “It is laborious to consider. From all of the inconveniences of the ghetto to a 30 million greenback enterprise. Who would have thought that was doable?”


Marjorie Brandon Awards and Live performance: Tribute to Buddy Jones 7 p.m. Saturday, November 5 Middle for Non secular Residing, 117 S. Locust, Visalia Music by Deanna Saldana and Bruce Huddleston Dessert Public sale Seating on the middle is proscribed. Previous to the awards, the Jamaican Roots meals truck might be arrange behind the middle from 5:30-6:45 p.m. for individuals who need to buy dinner. Tickets are $25 on Eventbrite or by calling 559 625-2441.

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