Nathaniel R. Jones
|Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit|
October 5, 1979 – May 13, 1995
|Appointed by||Jimmy Carter|
|Preceded by||John Peck|
|Succeeded by||Guy Cole|
May 12, 1926 |
Youngstown, Ohio, U.S.
|Alma mater||Youngstown State University|
Nathaniel Raphael Jones (born May 12, 1926) has served as a lawyer, jurist, academic, and public servant. He was a judge on the U.S. 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 born in the Smoky Hollow district of Youngstown, Ohio, several blocks from a federal courthouse that now bears his name. He served with the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. After the war, he pursued his education at Youngstown State University, receiving his A.B. in 1951 and his LL.B. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. military. He also successfully coordinated the NAACP's defense on First Amendment grounds in the Mississippi Boycott case.
Judicial career and beyond
On May 17, 1979, President Jimmy Carter nominated Jones to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Jones took his oath of office on October 15, 1979. Jones served on the court for 23 years, retiring in 2002. He is now employed as Senior Counsel in the Cincinnati office of Blank Rome LLP.
Jones’ record of community and academic service includes teaching at Harvard Law School. His efforts in civil and human rights have taken 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 has five children: Stephanie J. Jones, William L. Hawthorne, Ricky B. Hawthorne, Marc D. Hawthorne, and Pamela L. Velez. Jones is a Prince Hall Freemason and a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.
- Skolnick, David (April 13, 2003). "Retired Judge Jones reminisces as naming of courthouse nears". The Vindicator. p. B-5.
- "Atty. Jones to Address YSU Class of '70, Get Doctorate". The Youngstown Vindicator. June 7, 1970.
- Sheehan, Pete (April 25, 1970). "600 Hail NAACP Chief Counsel: Banquet Honors Nate Jones". The Youngstown Vindicator.
- Skolnick, David (May 6, 2003). "Crowd honors Judge Jones as courthouse is named". The Vindicator. p. B-1.
- "NAACP announces 2016 convention theme "Our Lives Matter, Our Voices Count"". March 8, 2016. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
- Gray, David (2012). The History of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Ohio F&AM 1971 – 2011: The Fabric of Freemasonry. Columbus, Ohio: Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Ohio F&AM. p. 414. ISBN 978-0615632957.
- Nathaniel R. Jones at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
- Appearances on C-SPAN
|Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit