MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Editor's Note: Video above is from Sept. 2019.
Marvis LaVerne Kneeland Jones, an educator and activist who was one of eight Black students who integrated Memphis State University when they first attended class in 1959, has died at age 81, a funeral home said.
Jones died Sunday, E.H. Ford Mortuary in Memphis said in an an obituary Tuesday. No cause of death was disclosed.
Jones was among the group of eight Black students who were escorted by police to class at Memphis State on Sept. 18, 1959. The school is now called the University of Memphis.
According to the obituary, the group had to take all their courses during the school's morning session, then leave campus. They were not allowed in the cafeteria or student center, but tensions eased as more Black students enrolled.
After graduating, Jones taught in the Memphis school system for 25 years. She also participated in voter registration drives and worked in public relations. She was married to former Tennessee state Rep. Rufus E. Jones Sr.