Sunday 27 November 2022 05:02 PM Black student in 1957 photo with Jerry Jones outside segregated school says he ... trends now
One of six black students who were pictured being confronted by a white mob outside of a segregated high school in 1957 says he has forgiven Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for joining the group.
'If he had any animosity, I don't know, but I've forgiven him for whatever reason he was there,' Harold Jean Smith told NBC DFW on Friday, noting: 'You don't judge people by the past.'
Smith was just 17 in September 1957, when he was pictured wearing a plaid long-sleeve shirt as a group of white students blocked him and other African-American teenagers from entering and integrating Arkansas' North Little Rock High School.
Jones admitted last week that he was pictured among the crowd, but said he had only joined in the confrontation because he was curious about what was happening as civil rights clashes spread throughout the south — and not because he was harboring any racist feelings.
The explanation sounds plausible to Smith, now 82 years old.
'I can believe that, that he was just curious,' Smith said, adding: 'I just looked at it as the past. That was in the past.
'You don't judge people by the past,' he continued. 'You judge them by the future.'
Harold Jean Smith, 82, said he forgives Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for joining a group preventing Smith and five other black teenagers from desegregating a school in North Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957
Jones admitted last week that he was pictured among the crowd, but said he had only joined in the confrontation because he was curious about what was happening. Smith is pictured bottom right in a flannel long-sleeve shirt
Jones was 15 at the time and said his football coach, Jim Albright, had warned players to avoid the widely anticipated scene on the first day of classes — but he disobeyed.
He told the Washington Post he was simply curious about what was happening.
'I don't know that I or anybody anticipated or had a background of knowing … what was involved,' he said. 'It was more a curious thing.'
But not everyone was standing at the North Little Rock High entrance out of curiosity.
As one black student, Richard Lindsey, explained, a white student put his hand on the back of his neck while announcing to the crowd: 'I want to see how a n***** feels.'
The entire altercation, which was photographed by an Associated Press reporter, did not last very long, Smith said.
'The only thing I