Barbara O. Jones Dies: Actress In The Independent Black Cinema Was 82

Barbara O. Jones Dies: Actress In The Independent Black Cinema Was 82

Barbara O. Jones, an actress in the independent Black cinema of 1970s Los Angeles in such films as Bush Mama and Daughters of the Dust, has died at her home in Dayton, Ohio. She was 82.

Her brother, Marlon Minor, confirmed her April 8 death to The New York Times and said the cause had not been determined.

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Jones moved from the Midwest in search of a film career, and became active in the UCLA film school, a movement that has been called the L.A. Rebellion.

She appeared in several short student films, including Child of Resistance (1973), in which she played an imprisoned activist loosely based on Angela Davis, and Diary of an African Nun (1977), adapted from a short story by Alice Walker.

Her first leading role in a feature film was in Bush Mama (1979). The movie’s story followed the daily life of Dorothy, played by Jones. The film was about a working-class Black woman struggling with a daily life rarely seen in films of that era.

Jones worked in television and had roles in other 1970s films, often appearing under the screen names Barbarao, Barbara-O and Barbara O. Her résumé included Black Chariot (1971) and the 1977 sci-fi horror movie Demon Seed, starring Julie Christie.

She also had a larger part in the 1979 miniseries Freedom Road, in which she played the wife of Muhammad Ali.

Jones’ last major credit was Daughters of the Dust (1991), in which she played Yellow Mary, a former prostitute who grew up among the Gullah people of the Southeast coast.

Along with her brother Marvin, survivors include her children Makini Jones, Mshinda Jones and Dhati Price; five grandchildren; a great-grandson; and another brother, Raymond.


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