81° F
Scattered Clouds
Scattered Clouds

Madison doctor shares how King changed her life

Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:30:50 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 22 2013 08:00:47 AM CST

Debbie Jones meets a lot of people as a doctor at St. Mary's Hospital in Madison.

But she credits a chance meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 46 years ago in Chicago as a handshake that changed the trajectory of her life.

Jones remembers how her mother adored King. When the reverend moved to Chicago in 1966 to lead the civil rights movement there, her mother knew she had to go watch King speak.

She took 8-year-old Debbie, one of eight children, for reasons her daughter still doesn't know.

King had "the quintessential southern Baptist preacher voice" as he spoke, then moved into the crowd to shake hands.

As he approached, Debbie Jones' mother hoisted her up, sacrificing her moment for her young daughter.

Jones went home and read all she could about King. She emerged from a life of poverty, becoming the first in her family to attend college and, later, medical school.

"I couldn't be the girl that shook his hand and did nothing with my life," Jones said. "That was simply never ever an option from the moment I climbed off my mother's arms that day."

Now, she inspires kids in the Madison community, shaking their hands and telling them she's transferred King's greatness to them. She said she asks each one to tell them what kind of a great person they'll become.

"I look forward to the day when they come back and tell me they are just that," Jones said. "That would mean so very much -- that would be a life well lived for me."

Jones has retired her mother, to whom she's still grateful for sharing that moment with King. She has three kids of her own, two of whom are pursuing careers in medicine.

  • sandwich platter sandwiches food

    iStock / WinterStorm

    10 things that will cost more this fall

    Prices are going up for a wide variety of products and services this fall, from airfare to bacon.

  • James Foley in helmet

    Courtesy Dan Shakal

    Who was James Foley?

    James Foley was an American photojournalist who went missing in Syria almost two years ago. On Tuesday, August 19th, a video, apparently produced by ISIS as a warning to the US to stop air strikes against the group in Iraq, ended with Foley's beheading. Learn more about the life of the man whose his parents call a 'martyr for freedom.'

  • Police lights file 2

    Ridiculous 911 calls

    Have you ever considered calling 911 because of a massive spider in your house? How about because a McDonald's employee got your order wrong? Take a look at some of the strangest reasons people have recently called 911.