Community members, cherishing the bonds of friendship and kinship, united on a momentous occasion to commemorate the graduation of Bishop Samuel Jones Jr.
With jubilant spirits, Jones, who will soon mark his 66th birthday, reveled in the festivities of his long-awaited achievement. His wife, Regina Jones, emphasized the significance of this day, remarking that it brings a sense of closure, healing, accomplishment, and pride to her husband, allowing him to finally share his inspiring journey.
In the year 1976, Samuel Jones was unjustly deprived of attending his own graduation ceremony from Chocowinity High School. Officials claimed that his pre-algebra grade fell short by a single point, an insubstantial margin. However, neither he nor his family received any notification about this academic discrepancy.
Imagine the shock Jones experienced when he arrived to collect his cap and gown on that fateful graduation day, only to be informed that he would not be partaking in the ceremony. Unbeknownst to him, his academic progress had been imperiled.
Jones asserts that he was an exemplary student, excelling in his studies. Fueled by a fervent desire to remedy this injustice, Jones’s mother, who was employed within the Beaufort County Schools system, enlisted the aid of an assistant principal in Washington to provide him with tutoring. Through two weeks of intensive instruction and with unwavering determination, Jones seized the opportunity to retake his pre-algebra test, ultimately emerging victorious by passing it with flying colors.
Despite eventually receiving his degree from Chocowinity High School, the lackluster affair devoid of customary revelry and festivities tarnished what should have been a joyous moment. It was on this day, the day of graduation, that Jones was made painfully aware of the grave mistake that had transpired, intensifying the heartache he endured.
Regina Jones poignantly captured the essence of their journey with the phrase, “delayed, but not denied.” She expressed that although he technically graduated in 1976, his inability to walk alongside his classmates remains an unhealed wound. However, today, he stands resolute, refusing to accept denial, as he walks proudly, accompanied by classmates who have rallied around him.
Initially, Mrs. Jones had contemplated organizing this celebratory event a few years ago. However, she sensed that the timing was askew, and subsequently, the advent of the pandemic further delayed their plans. Now, in the year 2023, she affirms that the calling within her heart aligns perfectly with the present moment, rendering it the opportune time to bestow upon Jones the recognition he so rightfully deserves.
Bedizened in a graduation cap and gown reminiscent of the attire he would have worn 47 years ago, Jones was surrounded by his loving family as he received his diploma and ceremoniously turned his tassel. Moved by the enormity of this moment, Jones expressed heartfelt gratitude for the patience exhibited by those in attendance. With a touch of humor, he requested a bit of space, playfully noting his aversion to crying due to the accompanying contortion of his facial features.
Undeniably, Jones declared himself blessed to be encompassed by an unwavering circle of love from those who hold him dear. In the face of adversity, his delayed triumph serves as a testament to the strength of his spirit and the unyielding support he has received from his community.