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Elaine Jones

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Information about Elaine Jones

Profile image of Elaine Jones

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Civil Rights Lawyer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue, Browns
Favorite Food:
Fish
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Anywhere New
Favorite Quote:
You Do The Best You Can, And That's All You Can Do

Birthplace

Born:
3/2/1944
Birth Location:
Norfolk, Virginia

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Civil Rights Lawyer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue, Browns
Favorite Food:
Fish
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Anywhere New
Favorite Quote:
You Do The Best You Can, And That's All You Can Do

Birthplace

Born:
3/2/1944
Birth Location:
Norfolk
See how Elaine Jones is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Legal powerhouse and civil rights lawyer Elaine Ruth Jones was born on March 2, 1944 in Norfolk, Virginia, the daughter of a Pullman porter and a schoolteacher. Jones observed firsthand the impact of racism on her community, when one of her teachers was represented by Thurgood Marshall in the case, Allen v. Hicks.

Jones attended Howard University, where she worked her way through school. Joining the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and becoming dean of pledges, Jones graduated from Howard University in 1965, finishing school on the Dean’s List. After college, she entered the Peace Corps, where she traveled to Turkey and taught English as a second language. Jones considered applying for a second tour of duty in Micronesia, but decided to return to school in 1967.

In 1967, Jones entered the University of Virginia Law School, where she was one of five black students and the only female. After her graduation in 1970, Jones was offered a job with a prominent Wall Street firm, but declined the offer in order to take a position at the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund (LDF), which, at that time, was headed by Jack Greenberg.

In 1972, Jones represented a black man on death row who had been accused of raping a white woman in the Furman v. Georgia Jones case. The Supreme Court decision on the case abolished the death penalty in thirty-seven states for twelve years, only two years after Jones had left law school. During this time, Jones argued numerous discrimination cases, including some against the country’s biggest employers. These cases included Patterson v. American Tobacco Co., Stallworth v. Monsanto, and Swint v. Pullman Standard. In 1973, Jones became the Legal Defense Fund’s managing attorney.

In 1975, Jones left the NAACP’s LDF to join President Ford’s administration as Special Assistant to Secretary of Transportation William T. Coleman. She returned to the LDF in 1977 as a litigator. During her continued tenure with the LDF organization, she was instrumental in the passage of 1982’s Voting Rights Act Amendment, 1988’s Fair Housing Act and Civil Rights Restoration Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Jones was elected to the American Bar Association Board of Governors in 1989, the first African American to do so. In 1993, Jones became the first female president and defense counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. She was named one of Ebony Magazine’s “10 Most Powerful Black Women” in 2001. Jones works as Director-Counsel of the LDF, and received an honorary degree from Spelman College in 2007.

Jones was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 30, 2006.

See how Elaine Jones is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Elaine Jones' interview, session 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Elaine Jones lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Elaine Jones describes her mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Elaine Jones describes her mother's family background, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Elaine Jones describes her mother's family background, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Elaine Jones describes her father's family background, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Elaine Jones describes her father's family background, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Elaine Jones describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Elaine Jones describes her earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Elaine Jones describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Elaine Jones explains why she enjoys the countryside
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Elaine Jones remembers family meals during her childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Elaine Jones describes her siblings and their occupations
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Elaine Jones describes the street where she grew up in Norfolk, Virginia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Elaine Jones describes her neighborhood in Norfolk, Virginia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Elaine Jones talks about her father's career as a Pullman porter
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Elaine Jones describes her father's experiences of discrimination as a Pullman porter
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Elaine Jones remembers her parents' relationship
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Elaine Jones remembers celebrating holidays as a child
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Elaine Jones describes her elementary school education
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Elaine Jones describes her childhood personality
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Elaine Jones remembers visiting the dentist as a child
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Elaine Jones remembers growing up in segregated Norfolk, Virginia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Elaine Jones recalls her decision to pursue a law career, pt.1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Elaine Jones recalls her decision to pursue a law career, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Elaine Jones describes her junior high school education
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Elaine Jones remembers attending her maternal grandfather's church
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Elaine Jones remembers Norfolk's Booker T. Washington High School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Elaine Jones remembers the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Elaine Jones describes her decision to attend Howard University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Elaine Jones remembers her first impressions of Howard University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Slating of Elaine Jones interview, session 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Elaine Jones remembers Stokely Carmichael as a student at Howard University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Elaine Jones recalls how she was impacted by activism at Howard University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Elaine Jones describes Stokely Carmichael's personality
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Elaine Jones describes her graduation from Howard University in 1965
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Elaine Jones remembers her decision to join the Peace Corps
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Elaine Jones remembers teaching English in Turkey through the Peace Corps
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Elaine Jones describes her experience as African American in Turkey
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Elaine Jones describes the Ulus section of Istanbul, Turkey
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Elaine Jones recalls her travels in the Middle East
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Elaine Jones reflects upon her experience in the Peace Corps
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Elaine Jones reflects upon how her Peace Corps service influenced her views
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Elaine Jones remembers applying to law school
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Elaine Jones recalls being the first black woman to attend the University of Virginia School of Law
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Elaine Jones recalls the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Elaine Jones recalls gender discrimination at the University of Virginia School of Law
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Elaine Jones recalls her supporters at the University of Virginia School of Law
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Elaine Jones recalls an instance of discrimination at University of Virginia School of Law
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Elaine Jones remembers her classes as a first year law student
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Elaine Jones describes her Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer Fellowship
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Elaine Jones describes the education she received at University of Virginia School of Law
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Elaine Jones remembers her interviews with civil rights attorneys in 1969
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Elaine Jones describes her mentors at University of Virginia School of Law
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Elaine Jones describes being offered a position at a prestigious law firm
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Elaine Jones recalls joining the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Elaine Jones recalls her parents' reactions to her career
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Elaine Jones recalls her sister's enrollment at the University of Virginia School of Law
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Elaine Jones recalls the growth of diversity at the University of Virginia
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Elaine Jones remembers passing the bar exam in Virginia
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Elaine Jones recalls the staff of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Elaine Jones describes the founding of NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Elaine Jones describes the attorneys of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Elaine Jones describes the cases of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Elaine Jones talks about Jack Greenberg
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Elaine Jones talks about Robert L. Carter
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Elaine Jones remembers litigating capital punishment cases
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Elaine Jones explains the strategy behind the litigation of Furman v. Georgia
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Elaine Jones describes the U.S. Supreme Court case of Furman v. Georgia, 1972
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Elaine Jones recalls announcing the Furman v. Georgia decision to inmates on death row
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Elaine Jones recalls lessons from the Peace Corps that affected her law practice
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Elaine Jones recalls transitioning from capital punishment to employment discrimination cases
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Elaine Jones describes the case of Stallworth v. Monsanto Company, 1977
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Elaine Jones recalls the case of Patterson v. American Tobacco Company, 1982
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Elaine Jones explains how she was compensated as co-counsel to local attorneys
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Elaine Jones describes the difference between employment discrimination and capital punishment clients
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Elaine Jones describes the organizations involved in class action employment discrimination suits
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Elaine Jones describes the case of Swint v. Pullman-Standard, pt. 1
  • Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Elaine Jones describes the case of Swint v. Pullman-Standard, pt. 2
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Elaine Jones recalls working in the U.S. Department of Transportation
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Elaine Jones remembers Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr.
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Elaine Jones recalls her return to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Elaine Jones describes her civil rights work in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Elaine Jones remembers prioritizing the appointment of black federal judges
  • Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Elaine Jones recalls desegregating the federal judiciary
  • Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Elaine Jones recalls lobbying to preserve the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Elaine Jones talks about lobbying to renew the Voting Rights Act of 1965
  • Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Elaine Jones recalls key players in the 1982 Amendments of the Voting Rights Act of 1965
  • Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Elaine Jones recalls how the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. was funded
  • Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Elaine Jones reflects upon her disappointments as a civil rights lobbyist
  • Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Elaine Jones talks about the extensions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965
  • Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Elaine Jones talks about the politics of racial separation
  • Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Elaine Jones recalls becoming president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., pt. 1
  • Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Elaine Jones recalls becoming president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., pt.2
  • Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Elaine Jones descirbes Julius Chambers' presidency of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Elaine Jones describes her organizational changes to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Elaine Jones talks about her deputy, Theodore Shaw
  • Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Elaine Jones reflects upon the achievements of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • Tape: 10 Story: 10 - Elaine Jones recalls how conservative organizations mimicked her political strategies
  • Tape: 10 Story: 11 - Elaine Jones describes the structure of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • Tape: 10 Story: 12 - Elaine Jones describes the case of Gratz v. Bollinger, 2003
  • Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Elaine Jones talks about freeing Kemba Smith
  • Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Elaine Jones recalls how she learned about Kemba Smith
  • Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Elaine Jones talks about the continuing relevance of civil rights issues
  • Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Elaine Jones describes her current role at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Elaine Jones reflects upon her career and awards
  • Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Elaine Jones describes her plans for her retirement
  • Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Elaine Jones describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Elaine Jones reflects upon her legacy