Philly Rising: With paint, brushes, and a ladder, Morris Jones finds way to give back to community

Antionette Lee
October 24, 2019 - 4:00 am

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Morris Jones has been a pillar in his community for decades, and people, businesses, and organizations have asked him to do storefront paintings and wall murals to beautify the area.

But Jones says his work isn't about the paint. In fact, he often completes his projects with just the bare minimum: paint, brushes and a ladder.

“I just wanna just give back, this is my way of giving back,” he said. 

His work is about the message and the work behind the art.

“That’s the only reason I got into art was because graffiti writing, trying to deliver a message,” he explained. “And then I started working with kids in the community in North Philly because that’s where I was from."

He gets the neighborhood kids involved and gives them mentorship and a chance to take part in something long-lasting.

“I don't just do art for art's sake, I do art because it should have a meaning, it brings hope and magic to the neighborhood.”

One of his most notable works was working with students at a Philadelphia school to preserve the legacy of the late politician Dave Richardson, who impacted the Germantown area.

“It's up to us to preserve his legacy,” said Jones, who admits the job hasn't always been easy.

“It really gets kinda hard because kids come from different backgrounds and you have to convince them this is the right thing to do," he said. "I had to convince these kids that wasn't the right way to go.”

“It kinda wears on you," he added. 

While he’s learned that all you can do is the best you can, he's burned out from pouring so much into the youth and says he hopes that someone else will pick up the torch that he's lit. 

"It's up to the young organizers. We just need more people out here."