Alabama Poet Laureate Ashley Jones looks back on memorable 2021
This story is part of AL.comfrom the series “21 Alabamians who made a difference in 2021”, highlighting the people who have made our state a better place to live this year. The stories in this series will be published daily from December 5 to 31. Find all the stories in the series as published here, and discover the Alabamians who made the difference in 2020 by clicking here.
Alabama Poet Laureate Ashley M. Jones has had a momentous 2021.
âIt has been a huge year in every way,â she said. âIt was the year I released my third book, ‘Reparations Now!’ It was very well received. I am really proud of this book. It took me to so many places including ‘Good Morning America’ which I never expected. It was really great.
The highs were very high, but the lows were very low. His father, Donald Jones, a 26-year former Birmingham Fire and Rescue Deputy Fire Chief, had only been a Midfield Fire Department fire chief for about a year when he died in April at the age of 59.
âThis year has been a year of great tragedy for me,â Jones said. “Of course being named the Alabama Poet Laureate was really exciting, bittersweet of course because I didn’t have my dad here to celebrate it with me.”
Jones, at 31, is Alabama’s youngest poet laureate and is also the first person of color to be appointed to the post. She will hold this position from 2022 to 2026.
âIt’s really exciting and a turning point or at least a point of opportunity for our state as I’m the first person of color and the youngest to serve,â Jones said. âWe may be entering a different kind of conversation about race and fairness in Alabama. I hope this conversation can continue in earnest over the next four years and beyond.
Governor Kay Ivey presented him with an official Commendation at the nomination ceremony at the Old State House in Montgomery on December 1.
âIt was a beautiful ceremony,â she said. âA few blocks from where we were is the slave auction site. In the room I was commissioned in, there is a plaque commemorating Alabama’s secession from the union, which was decided in that same room. There are certainly a lot of spirits in the air. I certainly don’t think my appointment is the solution to all of the problems we still face in our state. But I think it was important to recognize what happened in that room and what was happening that day in that room. A black woman stood there, very vocally black and proud of it, with a book on reparations, named Poet Laureate in the very room where people decided they wanted to protect the institution from slavery at all price.
Read more here: How Ashley M. Jones Became Alabama’s Most Influential Poet