"Cocoa's Royal Queen"
“May we, out of hearts of love and concern in feeding the human spirit, respect each other more, recognize each other’s rights as human beings, acknowledge each other’s dignity.”
—Rosa Lee Jones
Life Long Educator
Rosa Lee Jones was an educated black woman when few had the opportunity to complete college.
Jones attended Florida public schools, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University in Tallahassee, Walker’s Business College in Tampa, and Brevard Community College, where she became a kindergarten teacher.
She and husband Osborne mortgaged their home in the 1960s in order to finance the construction of the Rosebud Kindergarten and Child Care Center, becoming the first African American woman to own and operate a licensed kindergarten and day care center.
Among Jones’s students were notable figures in local government and the education field.
Jones helped establish Brevard County’s first NAACP chapter in 1934. She worked to rally the education community, register black Floridians to vote, and ignite a movement.
Jones was a friend of and secretary to civil rights activist Harry T. Moore.
Backed by NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall, Moore worked with the all-black Florida State Teacher’s Association in 1937 to sue for equal black and white teacher pay in the Deep South. The case was eventually lost in state court, but it spawned other federal lawsuits in Florida, eventually leading to equal pay.
Moore’s political activism led to dismissal from his teaching job, but he continued growing Florida’s NAACP membership with Jones's assistance.
Due to segregation, Cocoa was racially and geographically segregated until the 1960s. Jones was a respected writer and an eloquent voice in Cocoa’s African American community.
She kept the community informed of important issues and social happenings as a contributing editor of The Script - Cocoa’s second black community newspaper - and The Brevard.
Jones was a popular WKKO-AM radio personality. Her ‘The Gab Bag’ segment - part of the Sunday morning program “Open House” - announced special events and occasions in the community.
On radio, in print, in speeches, in school lectures, and in person, Jones preached a positive outlook and the importance of transcending hate.