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Paul Jones

Paul R. Jones was born Paul Raymond Jones on June 1, 1928, in Bessemer, Alabama, a company-run mining town, as the youngest of five children. Jones started off school in the South, but was sent by his family to New York to continue his education. By the time he reached high school, however, he had returned back home. Jones received a scholarship to attend the University of Alabama, where he was active in a variety of athletics and social organizations. After being told that he could not attend the law school of his choice due to his race, Jones went to Howard University, where he earned a B.A. degree in 1949 and an M.A. degree in 1950. Jones would later do doctoral work at the University of California and earned another M.A. degree from Governors State University.

Jones' involvement in politics began after returning home from Howard University in 1950. In the early 1950s, he remarked to a reporter that he might run for president and his outspokenness drew attention from political leaders in Washington, D.C. Heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement, Jones was also making political friends and by 1965 was working for the U.S. departments of Justice and Commerce. Jones continued to move around in political appointments, serving in a variety of posts throughout the South, as well as spending a year in Bangkok, Thailand, as a deputy director of the Peace Corps. In the early 1980s, Jones ran for Congress while continuing to grow Paul Jones Enterprises, a real estate holding firm, which he is still involved with to this day.

In addition to his long history with politics, Jones amassed a vast collection of African American artwork. The collection, which was recently given to the University of Delaware for display, is considered one of the largest and most complete collections of its kind. Jones also served on the boards of museums, historical societies and arts funding agencies, including the Atlanta History Center, the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens, and the Metropolitan Atlanta Art Fund.

Jones passed away on January 26, 2010 at the age of 81.

Jones was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 16, 2003.

Accession Number

A2003.195

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/16/2003 |and| 6/24/2005 |and| 8/23/2005

Last Name

Jones

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Raymond

Occupation
Schools

Governor's State University

University of California, Berkeley

University of Chicago

Yale University

Fisk University

Queens College, City University of New York

Alabama State University

Dunbar High School

Howard University

First Name

Paul

Birth City, State, Country

Bessemer

HM ID

JON07

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Favorite Quote

Beauty Is A Joy Forever.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Interview Description
Birth Date

6/1/1928

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Leg of Lamb, Mint Jelly

Death Date

1/26/2010

Short Description

Civic leader Paul Jones (1928 - 2010 ) has held numerous political appointments and real estate holdings, and is an avid collector of African American art.

Employment

United States Department of Justice

United States Department of Commerce

United States Peace Corps

Paul Jones Enterprises

Favorite Color

Blue, Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Paul Jones' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Paul Jones lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Paul Jones describes his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Paul Jones recalls stories about his family's tenant farming and visiting relatives on tenant farmland

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Paul Jones remembers visiting a maternal uncle's tenant farm

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Paul Jones describes how boxer Joe Louis influenced southern race relations

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Paul Jones describes his father's race consciousness

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Paul Jones describes his father and his interests

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Paul Jones remembers labor organizing in Bessemer, Alabama including a miner's strike that resulted in several deaths

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Paul Jones describes his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Paul Jones talks about how his parents met and African American cooking and nutrition in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Paul Jones describes his likeness to his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Paul Jones recalls moving north to New York to an integrated school system and losing his southern accent

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Paul Jones talks about working as a community relations specialist for the U.S. Department of Justice

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Paul Jones tells a story of quietly getting a segregationist sign removed from inside a building in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Paul Jones recalls early childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Paul Jones describes his childhood dream to attend West Point

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Paul Jones recalls running for president of the United States during the 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Paul Jones talks about his childhood experience with church

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Paul Jones talks about learning to read and beginning school at age five

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Paul Jones talks about his schoolteachers

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Paul Jones talks about being sent to New York City to improve his educational opportunities

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Paul Jones talks about playing sports at the Boys Club in New York City as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Paul Jones talks about attending Alabama State Teachers College for his first two years of college

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Paul Jones talks about Dunbar High School in Bessemer, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Paul Jones talks about attending Alabama State Teachers College in Montgomery, Alabama and being elected class president

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Paul Jones describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in Bessemer, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Paul Jones describes hog killings and dog fights

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Paul Jones talks about being barred from applying to the University of Alabama School Of Law in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Paul Jones describes his time as a student at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Paul Jones talks about visiting Ralph Bunche in New York and his arrival in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Paul Jones recalls deciding to do graduate work at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Paul Jones describes his work for the Birmingham Interracial Committee of the Jefferson County Coordinating Council for Social Forces

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Paul Jones talks about the dissolution of the Race Relations Institute

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Paul Jones talks about leaving the Interracial Committee in Jefferson County, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Paul Jones talks about starting a package store in Bessemer, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Paul Jones talks about Paul's Package Store

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Paul Jones talks about his relationship with the commissioner of public safety in Bessemer, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Paul Jones recalls the commissioner of public safety's predatory lending practices

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Paul Jones talks about being awarded a fellowship to the Yale Center of Alcohol Studies

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Paul Jones talks about running a restaurant leased by businessman A.G. Gaston

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Paul Jones talks about moving to San Francisco, California for work

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Paul Jones talks about his role in Selma, Alabama during the Edmund Pettus Bridge incident in 1965

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Paul Jones recalls his work in Selma, Alabama while working for the Community Relations Service

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Paul Jones talks about being honored for his art collection

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Second slating of Paul Jones' interview

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Paul Jones describes CREEP, the Committee to Re-Elect the President

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Paul Jones talks about the Peace Corps and being hired to the Committee to Re-Elect the President

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Paul Jones talks about G. Gordon Liddy and the Watergate scandal

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Paul Jones talks about the presidential race between Richard Nixon and George McGovern

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Paul Jones talks about black militants and political opportunism

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Paul Jones talks about the National Black Political Assembly and political pragmatism

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Paul Jones talks about how he secured money and black votes for the Committee to Re-elect the President

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Paul Jones talks about George McGovern's loss in the 1972 presidential election

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Paul Jones talks about high profile African Americans who supported Richard Nixon

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Paul Jones talks about President Richard Nixon's impact on the African American business community

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Paul Jones talks about the Model Cities Program

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Paul Jones clarifies his professional timeline and talks about the Watergate scandal

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Paul Jones talks about the Watergate hearings

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Paul Jones talks about political patronage in Chicago, Illinois and in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Paul Jones describes how he began collecting art

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Paul Jones talks about his focus on buying artworks by black artists and an encounter with Herman Kofi Bailey

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Paul Jones talks about networking with artists and lending his collection out to help artists gain exposure

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Paul Jones talks about joining the board of the High Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, the 20th Century Art Society, and the Collectors' Club

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Third slating of Paul Jones' interview

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Paul Jones outlines his political career

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Paul Jones talks about his congressional run in 1986

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Paul Jones talks about his membership in the Collectors' Club at the High Museum in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Paul Jones talks about damages to his art collection

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Paul Jones talks about lending his collection to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Paul Jones talks about loaning out his photography and other artwork

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Paul Jones remembers photographers James Van Der Zee and P. H. Polk

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Paul Jones tells the story of P. H. Polk's photograph 'The Boss'

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Paul Jones remembers James Van Der Zee and Roy DeCarava

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Paul Jones talks about high profile black photographers

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Paul Jones talks about the work of photographer Ming Smith and others

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Paul Jones talks about the overlapping work of painters and photographers

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Paul Jones talks about hosting a TV show in the 1950s and the lack of recognition for African American talent

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Paul Jones talks about artist Herman Kofi Bailey

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Paul Jones explains how the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware became the home for his art collection

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Paul Jones describes building a relationship with the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Paul Jones explains how he donated his collection to the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Paul Jones explains how he donated his collection to the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Paul Jones lists the conditions for the donation of his art collection to the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Paul Jones talks about neglect of African American art at Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Paul Jones talks about the interest in contemporary black artists and beginning to collect P. H. Polk's photographs

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Paul Jones talks about the potential value in a university's investment in art

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Paul Jones talks about the business of art making, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Paul Jones talks about the business of art making, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Paul Jones explains what is meant by the term "naive" art

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Paul Jones talks about how trained and untrained black artists are evaluated in the art market

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Paul Jones talks about the need to support and sponsor more black artists

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Paul Jones explains how art patrons can make an artist

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Paul Jones talks about some collectors' preference for "naive" art versus the art of trained African American artists

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Paul Jones talks about the need to diversify the arts world as well as African American museums

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Paul Jones talks about the increasing value of black art in the broader American cultural landscape

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Paul Jones describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Paul Jones considers what he might have done differently

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Paul Jones considers his legacy

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Paul Jones talks about the value of his art collection

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Paul Jones talks about his family, his career and art collecting

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Paul Jones describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Paul Jones narrates his photographs

DASession

1$2

DATape

1$6

DAStory

6$7

DATitle
Paul Jones describes how boxer Joe Louis influenced southern race relations
Paul Jones talks about his focus on buying artworks by black artists and an encounter with Herman Kofi Bailey
Transcript
Pretty soon what was so interesting with my father [William Jones] were the people that he'd worked with in the office at the Tennessee Coal, Iron, and Railroad Company, which was a U.S. Steel subsidiary, got to know each other very well. And they would go hunting with him down there, spend the night, and get up early in the morning, and all go out hunting out for birds or for small game, rabbits, squirrels, the like. And they'd come back and some would be cooked, and others would be cleaned, and they'd bring them back home. They'd gotten to know each other very well, these guys. What was so interesting was, I came along at a time when Joe Louis, the Brown Bomber, was sort of on his way up the ladder as a fighter. He initially had been Alabama. Family had moved to Detroit [Michigan]. And in those days, everyone was very, very strongly racial conscious. And so we would sit often, when those fights came on, the neighborhood or the block, on a porch during those summer nights. And they'd open up a window, whoever had a radio, and not everybody did, and they'd plug it into one of the little holes, and stick the radio on the ledge of the window. People would sit at a (unclear), and on chairs, on the porch, the others there was on the steps. And they'd turn it up loud, and we'd listen to that fight. And it was if, for us persons of color, that everything hung on this guy fighting for the race. And these men that were working with my father, or vice versa, would always pick whoever his white opponent was, and he'd always have Joe Louis. It got so as they paid him so often, that little five dollars each would bet, to that whenever they started fighting again--I never will forget it. It was the first [Max] Schmeling fight--they just paid him the five dollars in advance. Well, as you know, Schmeling beat Joe Louis, and he had to pay their money back and the five that he owed each one of them. Luckily, in the second fight luck was reversed, and Joe Louis beat Schmeling, and the rest is history. But it was an interesting set of events, that in spite of the system in which we grew up, there were patterns of relationships that transcended those persons who would say often, you know, we don't abide the whole group of the race, but Will Jones is all right, or Paul Jones is all right. These are the kind of people at 12:00 high, or at 12:00 midnight, if there was a need for help, you could get people to respond to you and vice versa, you would respond. And that was the kind of circumstance that I grew up in.$So, that began to help shape the direction and focus of my collecting. I said if I'm gonna be serious about collecting: one, I need some original works of art; two, I'm not exclusively--I wanted to concentrate on works by African Americans who have been under-collected and needed exposure. And so I couldn't go to the museum that didn't have a curator of African American art to get any advice from there, couldn't go to any of the galleries who were less than expert in works by African Americans. So I put out word with people that knew and said if you run into artists you think are mature enough or good enough for me to look at, let me know. And got a call one day from a lady who's working in special collections over Atlanta University [later Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, Georgia], said this is a good time for you to get in touch with an artist named Herman Kofi Bailey, said he needs a roundtrip ticket from Atlanta [Georgia] to Los Angeles [California], where his parents live, for Christmas, and said he's willing to give art for a ticket. So he and I met on mutual grounds, and he said take any two of these canvases he unrolled for a roundtrip ticket. I said fine, I'll take any three. He said no, I said two. And I said three. He said two, and I said three. The last time I said three, he rolled his canvases up, put 'em under his arm, and left. And that was a big one that got away. And I determined after that I'd never miss anything I really wanted. I later bought some of his artwork, got to know him and befriended him, and paid more for what I think might have been lesser quality work than those original ones. Bailey incidentally was a guy who had become sort of SCLC [Southern Christian Leadership Conference] and, and SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee] and others, artist in residence. You know, he'd do art for them and did prints that they could sell and raise money and things of that sort.$$About what year was it, this, when you approached Kofi Bailey?$$I'd say it was somewhere in the, between '65 [1965], '70 [1970], in the latter '60s [1960s].$$Okay, okay.$$Mid to latter.