Rick Jones oral history interview, 2017-05-14

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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00:00:00 - Beginning and introductions

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Partial Transcript: TRACI DRUMMOND: This is Traci Drummond and I am here in Fort Washington--

Segment Synopsis: Rick Jones was born in Washington D.C. in 1943. Jones discusses his youth in the 1950s. His mother worked as a maid. His father passed away when he was 4 years old (diabetes). His family moved in with his grandparents. He was part of the first class to integrate his high school.

00:05:09 - School integration, junior high, high school

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Partial Transcript: TRACI DRUMMOND: How would she get there--

Segment Synopsis: Jones discusses going to an integrated high school. He did very well in junior high school (graduated in 1958). He also discusses the neighborhood and community he grew up in (helping his mother, reading on weekends). He attended McKinley Tech High School (college prep).

Subjects: Community and school; Education; High school boys; Mothers; Race discrimination; Race relations

00:15:41 - Air force, basic training

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Partial Transcript: RICK JONES: And so by the time I was probably in the 11th grade I figured--

Segment Synopsis: Jones discusses thinking about going into the air force (after high school). His mother did not approve and wanted him to continue his education (college). On his 18th birthday, he signed up for the air force. He went through basic training in San Antonio, Texas.

Subjects: Air traffic control; Airplanes; Education; Physical fitness

00:28:50 - Training for air traffic controlling

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Partial Transcript: RICK JONES: When I was told I was going to be an air traffic controller--

Segment Synopsis: Jones discusses his qualifications for becoming an air traffic controller. He spent 9 months preparing (1962, Mississippi) for the job. He discusses race relations during air traffic training.

Subjects: Air traffic controllers; Air traffic controllers--Training of; Race relations; Segregation; Segregation in transportation

00:37:22 - Tennessee, postal office

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Partial Transcript: RICK JONES: And when I came out, I basically thought oh boy I'll get a chance to see the world--

Segment Synopsis: He was assigned to air force base in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (1963). He remained in Tennessee for 4 years. Jones' mentor suggested he attend officer candidate school (he was offered $6000 bonus), but he decided to go home (worked at post office). After he quits the post office, the FAA contacted him to work for them.

Subjects: Air traffic control; Airplanes; Postal service; Race relations; Southern States; Vietnam War (1961-1975)

00:51:51 - Federal Aviation Administration, racism

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Partial Transcript: RICK JONES: So I am said to myself how am I going to do this?

Segment Synopsis: Jones began working for the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). He discusses his original duties and training at the FAA. He discusses race issues he experienced.

Subjects: Air traffic control; Airlines; Race relations; Racial discrimination

01:12:03 - EEO counselor, recruiting

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Partial Transcript: RICK JONES: And I went back to the floor after that as a controller--

Segment Synopsis: In 1970, Jones was asked to be an EEO counselor (complaints of discrimination program). Jones and his colleague developed a plan to hire as many African-American people as possible (to FAA). He discusses how they worked to get more African-Americans hired by the FAA.

Subjects: African Americans; African Americans--Employment; Air traffic controllers; Race relations

01:28:18 - Coalition of Black Controllers, issues with PATCO

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Partial Transcript: RICK JONES: So we had to figure out how to get them through the test--

Segment Synopsis: He helps start the Coalition of Black Controllers. He also discusses the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO). In 1971, the FAA hired 98 African-American controllers nationwide (success). Jones and other controllers helped teach African-Americans the skills they would need to be air traffic controllers (to help them get employed). He also discusses some problematic incidents relating to PATCO.

Subjects: African Americans--Employment; Air traffic controllers; Race relations

01:50:02 - PATCO strike, issues with PATCO

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Partial Transcript: RICK JONES: A little more history if I can digress--

Segment Synopsis: Jones discusses PATCO strike (1980s). He also discusses more issues he had with PATCO throughout the years.

Subjects: Air traffic controllers; Race relations; Strikes and lockouts

02:05:17 - Promotions, Jones' training program

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Partial Transcript: TRACI DRUMMOND: So I've got a few questions I want to follow back up on--

Segment Synopsis: Jones discusses issues regarding promotions at the FAA (no black supervisors when Jones began). Jones also discusses how they specifically trained African Americans (to work for FAA).

Subjects: African Americans--Employment

02:17:27 - Flight service stations, National Black Coalition of FAA Employees

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Partial Transcript: RICK JONES: One of the things that we did when we--well we made a point of not doing--

Segment Synopsis: Jones discusses Coalition of Black Controllers as a union (not officially, but symbolically). He discusses the functions of the flight service station. He also discusses the creation of a national black coalition of controllers (meeting in Kansas). They named the new group the National Black Coalition of FAA Employees (national group).

Subjects: African Americans; Air traffic control; Labor unions

02:35:53 - Professional stress/health, Cock Pit Resource Management

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Partial Transcript: TRACI DRUMMOND: Through the seventies, I know PATCO sort of started to gain strength--

Segment Synopsis: Jones discusses how PATCO strikes/issues affected non-PATCO workers. He also discusses issues of stress/health among air traffic controllers. Jones discusses the United Airlines' Cock Pit Resource Management group (began in 1978).

Subjects: Air traffic controllers; Airlines--Safety measures; Labor unions; Strikes and lockouts

02:55:06 - New FAA program (Cock Pit Resource Management)

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Partial Transcript: RICK JONES: Well first of all, to have to tell an air traffic controller who thinks he's even more of a god than a pilot--

Segment Synopsis: Jones discusses new FAA program (cock pit resource management). He discusses how he attracted air traffic controllers to learn these new skills (used airplane accidents as examples).

Subjects: African Americans; Airlines--Safety measures; Women

03:06:51 - Women in air traffic

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Partial Transcript: TRACI DRUMMOND: So earlier, you talked a little bit about how ushering in all the African-American controllers--

Segment Synopsis: Jones discusses when women began to join the air traffic work force (issues). He mentions that the head of air traffic control is a white female (currently).

Subjects: Air traffic controllers; Women

03:17:38 - Labor relations in the 1970/80s

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Partial Transcript: TRACI DRUMMOND: Another thing that happened in the seventies--

Segment Synopsis: Jones discusses labor relations in the seventies/eighties (for PATCO, others). He also discusses how race played into labor relations. Jones also mentions retiring in 1994, but returning as a contract instructor (for a year in 1997).

Subjects: Aircraft industry--Employees--Labor unions; Labor unions; Strikes and lockouts

03:34:05 - Retirement, consulting

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Partial Transcript: TRACI DRUMMOND: Well, you just mentioned retirement--

Segment Synopsis: Jones discusses choosing to retire (pressure, etc.). He retired in 1994, but then returned to work in 1997. He then became a consultant (stopped in 2005).

Subjects: Aircraft industry; Retirement

03:45:53 - Discussion of 1980s strikes, Eastern Airlines

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Partial Transcript: TRACI DRUMMOND: Oh you know one question I did not ask--

Segment Synopsis: Jones discusses PATCO/1981 strike and the 1989 Eastern strike (how they dealt with the lack of people).

Subjects: Airlines; Strikes and lockouts

03:55:27 - Awards, youth programs

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Partial Transcript: TRACI DRUMMOND: So back to--back to your other work--

Segment Synopsis: Jones discusses awards he received in 1986 (achievement award). Jones discusses a program he started, Let's Go Up to the 21st Century (camps). He also worked with a Tuskegee youth aviation group. He also discusses news coverage of his program. In 2006, Jones let a different organization take over his program (it was getting to be too much for him and his wife).

Subjects: Airlines; Awards; Camps; Race relations; Youth

04:22:36 - Injury, rehabilitation

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Partial Transcript: TRACI DRUMMOND: So--what are you doing these days?

Segment Synopsis: Jones discusses an injury he sustained (many broken bones). He had to go through severe physical rehabilitation. He explains that his wife really helped him through this period of his life.

Subjects: Rehabilitation

04:35:12 - Mentors, concluding thoughts

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Partial Transcript: RICK JONES: My kids have been--as assorted as they are--a blessing to me.

Segment Synopsis: Jones discusses many of his mentors throughout his career.

Subjects: Children; Race relations