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The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones

Retired United States Circuit Court Judge and General Counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Nathaniel R. Jones was born on May 13, 1926 in Youngstown, Ohio. The son of Virginians, Lillian Brown Jones and Nathaniel Bacon Jones, he attended Westside School and Grant Junior High School. Black publisher J. Maynard Dickerson, owner of the activist Buckeye Review, mentored Jones, who wrote for the column, “Sports Shorts,” before graduating from South High School. Drafted in 1945, Jones served in the United States Army Air Corps in Dayton, where Dickerson introduced him to NAACP activists Mylie Williamson, James H. McGhee and F. Leon Higginbotham. After his discharge in 1947, he was introduced to Walter White, NAACP executive secretary. Jones earned an A.B. degree from Youngstown State University in 1951 and an LL.B. degree from Youngstown State University Law School in 1956.

Admitted to the bar in 1957, Jones, after four years of private practice, served as executive director of the Fair Employment Practices Commission and in 1960 was appointed by Attorney General Robert Kennedy as United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio in Cleveland. In 1967, Jones was appointed Assistant General Counsel to President Johnson’s National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (the Kerner Commission). Briefly returning to private practice, Jones was asked by NAACP executive director, Roy Wilkins, to serve as NAACP general counsel in 1969. For the next ten years, he argued several cases before the United States Supreme Court and led national efforts to end school segregation and to defend affirmative action. Jones investigated discrimination in the armed forces and successfully coordinated the NAACP’s First Amendment defense in the Mississippi Boycott Case. Jones was nominated by President Carter to the United States Court of Appeals in 1979 to which he became Senior Judge. He retired from the bench in 2002.

Currently a senior partner with Blank and Rome LLP, Jones has published widely and built a distinguished community record. He taught law at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, North Carolina Central University College of Law and Harvard University Law School. In 1993, Jones served as part of a team of observers for the first democratic elections in South Africa. Recipient of scores of awards, Jones is married to the former Lillian Hawthorne and has four grown children.

Accession Number

A2006.050

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/23/2006

Last Name

Jones

Maker Category
Middle Name

R.

Organizations
Schools

Youngstown South High School

West Side School #2

James Hillman Junior High School #2

Youngstown State University

First Name

Nathaniel

Birth City, State, Country

Youngstown

HM ID

JON15

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

A Person Must Be A Beacon Of Light That Will Illuminate Dark Places.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Birth Date

5/13/1926

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Cincinnati

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Association general counsel and federal circuit court judge The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones (1926 - ) is a retired United States Circuit Court Judge, and has served as executive director of the Fair Employment Practices Commission. He has also served as a United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and former general counsel for the NAACP.

Employment

Blank Rome LLP

U.S. Court of Appeals

National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders

Northern District of Ohio at Cleveland

Fair Employment Practices Commission

The Buckeye Review

Favorite Color

Blue

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones describes his mother's childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones describes his father's childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones recounts how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones recalls his parents' work during the Great Depression

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones describes his parents' move to Youngstown, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones talks about the history of Youngstown, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones recalls Youngstown's Third Baptist Church

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones remembers his experiences at West Side School

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones recalls racial tensions in primary school

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones describes his extracurricular activities

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones recalls working at the Buckeye Review, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones recalls black newspapers' influence on his writing

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones recalls working at the Buckeye Review, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones describes his sports network in Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones describes his courses at South High School

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones recalls his time in the service

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones describes his NAACP involvement

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones describes Youngstown State University

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

1$1

DATitle
The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones recalls his parents' work during the Great Depression
The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones recalls working at the Buckeye Review, pt. 1
Transcript
We were talking about your, your parents [Lillian Brown Rafe and Nathaniel Jones] and their personalities and the kind of things they had to do during the Depression [Great Depression] and--$$Well, both of my parents were very, were very energetic. They believed in, there was a strong work ethic in my family. My mother, in addition to working as a matron and selling products [for J.R. Watkins Medical Company; Watkins Incorporated], and she served as a subscription manager for the black local newspaper called, the Buckeye Review, which I later came to work for and eventually became the editor of it but in addition to doing those things, she, she took in washing, took in laundry and I would go collect the, the laundry, the washing, primarily shirts from, of business people and I'd go to their offices and collect the shirts and bring them home and on, on a Monday, and she would soak them and wash them and then she'd iron them and then on Thursday and Friday we would deliver them back to, to the customers. So she, she was always doing something to, to help sustain the family. And my father, likewise, he would always work. When the steel mills weren't up, he would be working two or three other jobs and when we got older, my brother [Wellington Jones] and I would go, we'd work with him at night when the theaters closed at eleven o'clock, we would then go and perform the janitorial services from two--twelve until five or six in the morning on weekends. We did it on weekends but my father did it every, every night.$So here you are going to these meetings?$$Yeah, and, and they would, you know, ask me, you know, "What do you want to be? What do you want to do," and so forth and I'd talk with them. Though Mr. Dickerson [J. Maynard Dickerson] was very active in this, in the YMCA [Young Men's Christian Association] forum activity, and he usually presided or he'd introduce the speaker or, and I was so impressed with this man who was, is this, you know, so important, he took an interest in me. And then my mother [Lillian Brown Rafe], of course, was working for him on the paper [Buckeye Review], and he'd always say, "Come over and see me sometimes, sonny," and I'd say, "Okay." And so when I was at the age that I kind of move around by myself, I would go over to the shop and I'd sit in the evenings and watch him work. He would come in from these, from his office and he'd put on his work clothes and he, he did, not only did he do the paper but he did commercial printing, job printing, letterheads, tickets and so forth and I'd watch him run the press. You know, he would just be putting stuff in the press, you know, printing, printing the jobs and so this went on for some time and then I would, and he would take me with him. They would hold some meetings in his home. If Thurgood Marshall was coming to town [Youngstown, Ohio] or some notable person would come in for a meeting, I would go with him and I'd just sit, go sit in the corner and listen to these, these people talk and strategize and I know one time I asked him if I could write a column for the paper. This time I was probably in the, about the eighth grade and he said, "What do you want to write about?" I said, "I want to write," 'cause I was into sports, you know, all kids are into the sports, I said, "I'd like to write about sports," and he said, "Well, okay." So, I sat at a typewriter and I was hunting and pecking, you know. I did this column called, Sports Shorts, and it was just a little aggregate, just a little culmination of little items of sports interest that I'd get out of newspapers and that I knew was going on.$$Now that was after the, that was after Jesse Owens ran in the Olympics [1936 Summer Olympics, Berlin, Germany] and all that, right?$$Yeah, yeah.$$What was the hottest thing that you were writing about in those days?$$Well it was usually the bowl games, you know, college football, high school, high school sports, putting names, he used to always say to me, "The important thing about a newspaper," you know, their paper was, "was names." People like to see their names in print and so anything I knew that was going on that my peers were doing, I would just, you know, include that and then college players, because there were so few blacks playing college ball in those days, it was always a big thing and I would always try and track who the black players were and mention them. But anyhow, the first column I did, I had it waiting for him when he came home and we sat in his breakfast nook and he had a ballpoint pen, a multi-color ballpoint pen, the first time I'd ever seen one with red, green and blue ink. So he took the red ink and he went over this column, it was the very first one I--that I did and he corrected it and it looked like, when he got through with that, it looked like chickens had had a fight on it. I mean, just red all over the thing and then he explained every correction and then he, he's a very direct person and very blunt and he said, "Now, what grade are you in?" And I told him. He said, "What do you do in school all day?" I said, "Well I," you know, I was stumbling around. He said, "But you're not learning anything." And I looked at him, he says, "Now, you should know this, you should know, you should have learned this before, you should have learned this in grade school about how to spell and how to write and your grammar." He said, "You don't have a foundation." He said you, and he just told me what, you know, just really gave me down to, in the country, and he said, now, he says, "You want to learn?" I said, "Yes sir, I do." He said, "Okay. If you want to learn, I'll work with you but you have to have a thick skin." I said, "Yeah, I, I'm ready," you know. So, from that point on he worked with me on all of my copy and he would correct and explain. He got me a dictionary for my pocket. We had a dictionary in the shop on one of these pedestals, one of these huge Webster dictionaries but he gave me one in my pocket to carry with me.