Margart Taylor Jones, the first black to head a predominantly white school in Montgomery County and an activist in the struggle for school desegregation, died of cancer Thursday at Howard University Hospital. She was 67.
Mrs. Jones' 40-year career with the Montgonery County public school system bean in 1931 when she started teaching at the all black Scotland School, a one-room rural schoolhouse near Bethesda, to which she had to commute from the District.
"They made it clear to me," she recalled some years ago in a reference to the tightly-knit Scotland community, "that I was to teach school and git on down the road."
She remained there for eight years despite the fact that she had to spend $10 of her $58 monthly salary to pay a Scotland resident to pick her up in Bethesda after the 40-minute trolley ride from the District. She did the best she could, she said, with the limited resources made available to black schools at the time.
"Over the years. . .I found I could get things if I charged in and asked. I think they figured that if I had that much nerve, the best thing was to give me what I wanted to get rid of me," she recalled in an interview at the time of her retirement.
From 1951, to 1955 she served as the supervisor of balck elementary schools in Montgomery County, thus overseeing the least years of a dual educational system that was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in its famous 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision.
After that decision tha county began plans to desegregate its schools by 1961, and Mrs. Jones was a frequent speaker at sometime stormy meeting speaker at sometime stormy meetings with parents to explain the end of segregation.
During those years Mrs. Jones held the dual posts of supervisor of the county's black schools and principal of the Rock Terrace Elementary School in Rockville. In 1955 she was relieved of her supervisory role after a controversy during which racial discrimination became an issue.
"It is perfectly obvious to me that there is nothing more to this than that I am a Negro woman. I'm certain that's the issue," Mrs. Jones said at the time.
But 15 years later, in the interview making her retirement from the Montgomery County Public School system, she had a diffrent view: "Those jobs were too much for one person, I kept the one I really wanted."
In 1959 she qas named principal of the Bannockburn Elementary School, an almost all-white school in Bethesda. She held that post until retirement in 1971.
At Bannockburn she was at the center of a controversy in 1968 involving the busing of inner-city blacks to the school.The proposal had been initiated by some Bannockburn parents, and Mrs. Jones agreed to support them. After a heated debate that grew to involve Congressmen and Maryland state legislators. Bannockburn parents approved the proposal by a vote proportion of two to one.
Born in Washington, Mrs. Jones received a B.A. from Howard University and a master's in elementary education from Columbia University in New York. She further pursued her studies in education at New York University, Catholic University, and the University of Maryland.
She was a former secretary of the Montgomery County Retired Teachers Association and a director of the Mary Behune Day Care Center in Washington. She also became the first female council member of the Augustana Lutheran Church in the District.
Maryland Governor Marvin Mandel presented her with a Citizens Award on 1971 and a scholarship was created in her name by D.C. Teachers College.
Surviving are her husband, Howard I., of the home; her mother, Mrs. Susie Taylor, of Washington; two sisters anna T. McNeil and Grace T. Jones, both of Washington; and tow brothers, Walter Jones and Harry Jones both also of Washington.