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Valena C. Jones Elementary was a ‘sacred space’ for children of the 7th Ward

NEW ORLEANS -- February is Black History Month, a month-long celebration remembering the important contributions that African Americans have made in our nation's history.

In honor of Black History Month, News with a Twist is featuring the people and places of New Orleans and beyond that helped to shape our community.

Today's it's Valena C. Jones Elementary School.

The school began in 1904 as a Sunday school. At the time, it was called the London Avenue Sunday School and Preparatory Academy, Historian and Archivist Brenda Square says.

Under the leadership of the Rev. Alfred Lawless, the 7th Ward Educational Association purchased six lots in 1913.

Valena C. Jones was married to Bishop Robert Jones. He was the editor of the successful black publication, the Southwestern Christian Advocate, and she worked alongside him as an editor.

Valena C. Jones was a highly respected educator, which is why the reverend petitioned for the school to be named after her.

At the time, schools were not being named for black people.

"We consider Jones School a sacred space with a sacred legacy, which was a gift for the children of the 7th Ward," Square said. "There was a dental program, a health program and they fed the kids. Pioneering efforts grew out of that school and it represents the only remaining public school, built under the American Missionary Association, here in New Orleans."

Our Black History Month series is brought to you by The King Firm.