As the golden warmth of the June sun washed across the concrete at the Hickory Hill Community Center, Jeanine Jones, 50, thought back on her childhood.

“If you were a little Black girl on the Southside of Chicago and you couldn’t jump… it’s like you had to jump,” Jones said. “I remember jumping at recess, jumping before school, jumping after school, jumping until the street lights came on. You didn’t have a care in the world.”

Jones is a mother, educator and still fiercely light on her feet while gliding over double dutch ropes. She is the captain of the Memphis 40+ Double Dutch club made up of more than a dozen women who meet for fellowship and fun at the community center. The women range in age widely and wear those ages proudly on the back of their official club shirts. They are part of a national network under the 40+ Double Dutch Club, an organization that formed in Chicago in 2016. 

In May, the local group helped host an impressive Beale Street Takeover alongside hundreds of their sisters from across the country, flooding that street with the same joy found in their twice-a-week practices in Hickory Hill. “I deserve to be joyful because I am, because I live,” the writer SassyBlack declared in her essay on Juneteenth. “My joy is a revolutionary act.” And so today, MLK50: Justice Through Journalism wanted to give flowers and spend time with women intentionally and fiercely leaping into jubilation.

Hannah Franklin, 44

Three Black women play double dutch. Text to the left reads: It's always on my mind an everyday movement. Hannah Franklin, 44

Gloria Akpan, 74

A Black woman plays double dutch. Text to the right reads: When I arrived the first time, I heard from other members that the oldest member was 92 years old. I said, if she could do it, I can too. Gloria Akpan, 74

Jeanine Jones, 50

A Black woman with a jump rope draped around her neck. Text to the left reads: Out here, I'm taking videos. I'm running the playlist. The ladies always make sure I get a jump in. Jeanine Jones, 50, Memphis sub-club captain.

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