The late Mildred Johnson Hawkins Jones was honored Friday at Central Islip Senior High School, where she was the first African-American graduate. A plaque was placed in the school lobby to commemorate her achievement.
“I’m very ecstatic and happy,” said Reynolds Hawkins Jr., Jones’ son. Hawkins’ daughter graduated last June from Central Islip High School, 60 years and one day from the date his mother graduated. Hawkins wrote a speech about his mother that was read when his daughter received her diploma.
“I realized that something more needed to be done,” he said.
Hawkins approached the school board, which unanimously agreed to place a tribute to Jones in the school.
“I hope it will be a point of reference,” he said, “to know where you’re going and to know where you came from.”
Jones graduated in 1951 and became a nurse. She went on to co-found the New Bethany Baptist Church in Islip with her husband, the Rev. Sidney Jones. She received a bachelor’s degree from Stony Brook University in the mid-1970s before retiring from nursing in 1980.
Mildred Jones died in 2000.