Nathaniel Raphael Jones (May 12, 1926 – January 26, 2020) served as a lawyer, jurist, academic, and public servant and was an attorney in private practice. He was a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit before his retirement in March 2002. As general counsel of the NAACP, he gained recognition for his legal efforts to end school segregation in the northern United States.
Jones was nominated by President Jimmy Carter on August 28, 1979, to a seat vacated by John Weld Peck. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on October 4, 1979, and received commission on October 5, 1979. Assumed senior status on May 13, 1995. Jones retired from the bench on March 30, 2002.
1 Early years
2 Legal career
3 Judicial career and beyond
4 Personal life
7 External links
Jones was born in the Smoky Hollow district of Youngstown, Ohio, several blocks from a federal courthouse that now bears his name. He served with the United States Army Air Corps during World War II. After the war, he pursued his education at Youngstown State University, receiving his Artium Baccalaureus degree in 1951 and his Bachelor of Laws in 1956. Jones was admitted to the bar in 1957.
After four years in private practice, Jones served as Executive Director of the Fair Employment Practices Commission. In 1962, he became the first African American to be appointed as Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio in Cleveland. He held that position until his 1967 appointment as Assistant General Counsel to President Lyndon B. Johnson's National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (the Kerner Commission). Following his term with the Kerner Commission, Jones returned to private practice with the firm of Goldberg & Jones in Youngstown.
In 1969, he was asked to serve as general counsel of the NAACP by executive director Roy Wilkins. The following year, Jones was honored by more than 600 dignitaries at an NAACP recognition banquet held in Youngstown. In a keynote address, he described the situation of African Americans in the following terms: "We still live in the basement of the great society. We must keep plodding until we get what we are striving for". For the next nine years, Jones directed all NAACP litigation. In addition to personally arguing several cases in the United States Supreme Court, he coordinated national efforts to end northern school segregation, to defend affirmative action, and to inquire into discrimination against black servicemen in the United States military. He also successfully coordinated the NAACP's defense on First Amendment grounds in the Mississippi Boycott case.
Judicial career and beyond
Jones was nominated by President Jimmy Carter on August 28, 1979, to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit vacated by Judge John Weld Peck II. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on October 4, 1979, and received his commission on October 5, 1979. He took his judicial oath on October 15, 1979. He assumed senior status on May 13, 1995. His service terminated on March 30, 2002, due to retirement.
Jones was then employed as Senior Counsel in the Cincinnati office of Blank Rome LLP was active as of April 2018.
Jones' record of community and academic service included teaching at Harvard Law School. His efforts in civil and human rights took him to countries around the world, and in 1993, he served on the team of observers for the first democratic elections in South Africa. On May 6, 2003, the second federal courthouse established in his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio was named in honor of Jones. Former U.S. Representative Louis B. Stokes of Cleveland was on hand for the naming ceremony. "This building, which will forever carry your name, will be a testament to outstanding public service by a local boy made good", Stokes said. Jones received the NAACP's Spingarn Medal in 2016.
Jones was married to the late Lillian Graham Jones (née Hawthorne) and had five children: Stephanie J. Jones, William L. Hawthorne, Ricky B. Hawthorne, Marc D. Hawthorne, and Pamela L. Velez. Jones was a Prince Hall Freemason and a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. Jones died on January 26, 2020 at the age of 93.
About cookies on this site
ALLOW ALL COOKIES