Celebrating Black History Month in the WNCC: David Dallas Jones

February 2, 2023

By: Jim Pyatt, WNCC Archivist & Historian

Dr. David Dallas Jones (November 19, 1887 - January 24, 1956)

1926 was a year of significant changes in the life of Bennett College. “The Woman’s Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church decided to make Bennett College a college for women. The church Board of Education joined the Woman’s Home Missionary Society in supporting Bennett College. Dr. David Dallas Jones became the first President of Bennett College for women. He was a native of Greensboro and a devout and active Methodist. He was a graduate of Wesleyan University and Columbia University. From 1914 to 1923 he was Executive Secretary of the YMCA in Saint Louis, Missouri. He moved from Saint Louis to Atlanta and was a member of the Atlanta Interracial Commission when he was elected President of Bennett College.” (Linda Addo, To Be Faithful to Our Heritage, 2nd edition, p. 57.)

As the bulletin from a Service of Remembrance for Dr. Jones at Bennett College in 1985 states, “When David Jones was elected President of Bennett College it had very meager physical equipment, ten college students, no endowment and little outlook for the future. At the beginning of his administration, Bennett became a woman’s college and it was quickly transformed into a vital, dynamic institution with a unique program. Bennett grew and prospered as the years accumulated. . . . At the close of President Jones’ administration, the Bennett College plant consisted of 33 well-appointed buildings and 42 acres of land. It had an endowment approaching $2,000,000 and had graduated 1,563 young women.” (Bennett College Service of Remembrance, January 13, 1985)

Dr. Addo states that “Dr. Jones was supported in his efforts by the Methodist Episcopal Church, foundations, and philanthropists.” (p. 58) Under his leadership “the professional accrediting associations and agencies began to recognize that Bennett College was a first rate institution. In 1930 the ‘A’ rating was granted to the school by the Department of Education of the State of North Carolina. In 1935 the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools granted Bennett an ‘A’ rating.” (Addo, p. 58)

In a review of Jelani Favors’ book, Shelter in a Time of Storm, Joshua Canada notes that Dr. Jones “intentionally galvanized the all-female study body toward radical activism and exposed students to leading Black intellectuals and activists. Active and shrewd leaders like Jones functioned as exemplars and inspiration for young Black students.” (‘Shelter in a Time of Storm’ Details History of Leadership, Activism at Black Colleges | Diverse: Issues In Higher Education (diverseeducation.com))

Dr. Jones actively served the Methodist Episcopal Church (and later The Methodist Church) as an active lay person. He was elected to represent the North Carolina Conference as a delegate to General Conference in 1932, 1936, 1940, 1944, and 1948, and was a reserve delegate to General Conference in 1952.

Illness brought Dr. Jones’ tenure as President at Bennett to a close in 1955, when he was named President Emeritus. As an editorial in the Central Christian Advocate states, “President Jones was a man who felt deeply about life. He was uncompromising in his convictions and bold in his opposition to injustice. Yet he was one of the first to extend a helping hand in the time of need. He believed that religion should be the core of higher education in the church-related college, and should express itself in the total range of college activities.” (The Central Christian Advocate, February 15, 1956. Cited in Addo, p. 70)

Be sure to read the other biographies written by WNCC Archivist & Historian Jim Pyatt:

Rev. William Hornbuckle, a Native American ordained Deacon in 1928 and Elder in 1931.

Daphine Strickland, part of the Task Force that led to the organization of Triad Native American Church, the first Native American congregation in our Conference outside of Cherokee.

Thomas Queen, the Director of the Cherokee Mission from 1973 until his death in 1992.

Jeremiah Wolfe, the first Native American to be elected a delegate to General Conference from the WNCC in 1976.

Rev. David Ortigoza, the Director of Hispanic and Latino Ministries for the SEJ in 2003.

Rev. Diana Wingeier-Rayo, the first Hispanic/Latina woman to be received into full clergy membership in the WNC Conference.

Raul Adriano, the first known person of Hispanic/Latino heritage to be elected by The WNCC to serve as a Lay Delegate to General Conference.

Rev. Carlos Alberto Rodriguez, a key figure at the Board of Missions Office of The WNCC in 1961.

Rev. Dr. Abraham Kim, the first Asian-American to be elected as a clergy delegate to Jurisdictional Conference from the WNC Conference.

Rev. Karen Miyoshi Kagiyama, the first Asian-American women to be ordained an Elder in the WNCC.

In Muk Kim, the first Asian-American to be elected as a delegate (clergy or lay) to Jurisdictional Conference from the WNC Conference.

Rev. M. B. Lee McCrary, the first woman to become a full clergy member of the Western North Carolina Conference. 

Rev. Dolores Barus Queen, the first woman to serve as District Superintendent in the Western NC Conference.

Bishop Charlene P. Kammerer, the first (and to date, the only) woman to serve as Bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference.

Mrs. Jettie Morrison, a key figure in the Women's Society of Christian Service and the integration of The United Methodist Church in 1968.

Bishop L. Scott Allen (May 4, 1918-September 18, 2004), the first (and to date, the only) African-American to serve as Bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference.

Mrs. Effie Miller (September 17, 1930-September 1, 2008), a leader in the Western North Carolina Conference and the United Methodist Church, especially with regard to the United Methodist Women.

The Rev. Dr. J. C. Peters (July 10, 1925- July 2, 1998)the first African-American to serve as a District Superintendent in the Western North Carolina Conference.

Mr. Clarence Winchester,  a leader in the North Carolina Conference (Central Jurisdiction) and in the WNC Conference.

Dr. Isaac Miller (September 26, 1920-November 1, 2008), a leader in Higher Education and in the United Methodist Church.

#BeUMC Personal Reflections