Daniel Jones posing near the sculpture honoring the US Colored Troops who fought in Wilmington

April 13, 2022

Daniel Jones’s love for history took root in a small town in Georgia. He was influenced by his family of educators and his grandfather's role in local civil rights.

"When they integrated the school systems, he was named principal of the first integrated school in the area," said Jones ’18. "I would hear about his story compared to what I read about the civil rights movement. He was a part of that grassroots movement that had to happen in every single little town throughout the South. Hearing the stories of my grandfather piqued my interest in history."

His passion for history led Jones to a career as an educator at the Cameron Art Museum, where he serves as a cultural curator. He also helps lead the museum's docent program. Jones, who earned his bachelor’s degree in history from UNCW in 2018, previously worked at the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, the Cape Fear Museum, the Wilmington Railroad Museum and the Burgwin Wright House.

His volunteer work with the "Boundless" sculpture project opened the doors for him at the Cameron Art Museum. "Boundless" honors the soldiers and the legacy of the U.S. Colored Troops who defeated the Confederates at the Battle of Forks Road, helping capture Wilmington. The historic battle took place on the grounds where the museum now sits. The sculpture was unveiled in November 2021.

"We’re tasked with preserving and interpreting a Civil War site," he said. "Our team is in phase two of the research. A volunteer research team is helping to gather information. We know two more regiments in the area didn't necessarily fight, but they came in afterward and participated in the parade once they captured Wilmington."

The volunteer researchers are combing through records to identify the soldiers. Jones and the CAM team will develop programming for students and the public, using the sculpture as the focal point. They also hope to locate descendants of the soldiers and host a ‘Descendants Day.’

"Since the unveiling of 'Boundless,' I've talked to so many people from elementary students to retirees who have lived here their whole life and didn't know all this had happened in our backyard," Jones said. "As small as Wilmington is, it has played a large role in American history. The cool part of my job is that we get to tell the story through art."

-- Venita Jenkins