Skip to main content
Hands holding styled image
In the News January 26, 2020

NAACP Mourns Passing of Legal Giant Judge Nathaniel R. Jones

Hands holding styled image

Baltimore, Maryland - Derrick Johnson, president and CEO, made the following statement about the passing of former U.S. Circuit Court Judge Nathaniel R. Jones today in Cincinnati:

"The entire NAACP family is devastated by this news. To the nation, he was a civil rights icon. To the NAACP, he was a beloved leader, colleague, and friend.

Judge Jones served as General Counsel to NAACP from 1969 until 1979. His vision and skill in navigating civil rights cases through the courts soon after passage of major civil rights laws is legendary and a model for civil rights practice today.

President Carter recognized his legal brilliance by appointing him to the U.S. Circuit Court for the Sixth Circuit in 1979, where "equal justice under law" served as his touchstone for 23 years.

After retiring from the bench, Judge Jones never slowed down. He continued to practice law and gave generously of his talents to advance the cause of civil rights.

In 2016, the NAACP bestowed its highest honor upon Judge Jones by awarding him the Spingarn Medal in his beloved Cincinnati.

In one of his last public appearances, Judge Jones offered keynote remarks at our 110th National Convention in Detroit. Fittingly, he spoke about the importance of federal judges who are committed to the progress we've made in civil rights.

Undoubtedly, Jones was and remains a universal pioneer for those in the fight for civil rights. His life and legacy reflect what it means to dedicate ourselves to the cause of liberty and justice for all.

We extend our prayers to his daughter, Stephanie Jones; his entire family; his many law clerks; and to the larger civil rights community.

Judge Jones' autobiography is entitled, "Answering the Call." On behalf of a nation, we will be eternally grateful to Judge Jones for answering that call and devoting his life to ensuring equality and justice for all.