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Honoring the Life and Legacy of the Honorable Nathaniel Raphael Jones

WHEREAS, the brilliant and courageous trailblazer, and tireless champion of civil rights, the Honorable Judge Nathaniel Raphael Jones was born on May 12, 1926, in Youngstown, Ohio, to Lillian Brown Jones and Nathaniel Bacon Jones, and was the grandson of enslaved African Americans; and

WHEREAS, Judge Jones, as a young child was first introduced by his mother Lillian Brown Jones to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People where he joined the NAACP Youth Council and organized a successful boycott to challenge a local skating rink which only allowed African Americans to skate on Monday nights; and

WHEREAS, Judge Jones excelled in his academic endeavors and graduated from South High School in 1945 and thereafter was inducted into the United States Army during World War II where he served his country with distinction and honor; and

WHEREAS, after the end of World War II, Judge Jones began his matriculation at Youngstown State University where he received an Artium Baccalaureus degree in 1951, and thereafter received a Latin 'Legum Baccalaureus' degree from Youngstown State University in 1956; and

WHEREAS, Judge Jones was called to the Bar in 1956, and thereafter began an exemplary legal career, serving as the Executive Director of the Fair Employment Practice Commission, the first African-American Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and the Assistant General Counsel to President Lyndon B. Johnson's National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, before he was hired in 1969 by Roy Wilkins, the Executive Director of the NAACP to become the General Counsel of the Association; and

WHEREAS, as the General Counsel of the NAACP Judge Jones continued in the fight for civil rights and justice, by litigating cases which challenged school segregation, housing discrimination, systematic injustices and racism in the criminal justice system, racial bias in the military justice system and numerous other cases to protect the civil rights of African Americans; and

WHEREAS, in 1976, Judge Jones was instrumental in the Governor of the State of Alabama's pardon of Clarence Norris, the last surviving member of the Scottsboro Boys, the nine African-American teenagers who were falsely accused of raping two white women aboard a train near Scottsboro, Alabama in 1931; and

WHEREAS, in recognition of his brilliant legal acumen and his steadfast dedication to the cause of justice, Judge Jones was nominated by President James Earl Carter, Jr., to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on August 28, 1979, and was confirmed by the United States Senate on October 4, 1979, and, as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Judge Jones was a bold and courageous champion for justice who rendered impactful decisions impacting equal education rights, housing rights, voting rights, and equal employment; and

WHEREAS, Judge Jones during his time on the bench, made several trips to South Africa where he spoke out against the brutal regime of Apartheid which perpetrated the invidious and false belief of white supremacy, and where he was arrested, for challenging the system of Apartheid and was held in custody for four hours, yet despite this unjust arrest Judge Jones continued to raise his voice against Apartheid and ultimately assisted in the drafting of the South African Constitution once Apartheid ended; and

WHEREAS, upon his retirement from the bench in March 2002, Judge Jones served as Counsel with Blank Rome LLP, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer of Blank Rome LLP from December 2006 to 2011, Honorary Chair and Director of the National Underground Railroad Center in Cincinnati until August 2004, Board Member of the Knowledge Works Foundation Board of Trustees, Board Member of the Toyota Motors Manufacturing North America, Inc. Diversity Advisory Board, and served as U.S. Co-Chair for the 2012 World Choir Games; and

WHEREAS, Judge Jones was an initiate of the Beta Pi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporate and was the sixty-fifth Laurel Wreath Laureate of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity; and

WHEREAS, Judge Jones received at least 19 honorary degrees, and numerous honors, including the NAACP Spingarn Award, the highest honor awarded by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the International Freedom Conductor Award from the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, the Charles Hamilton Houston Medallion of Merit from the Washington Bar Association and Pillar of Justice Award from the Federal Bar Association, and the Changing the Odds Award from the Children's Defense Fund; and

WHEREAS, in 2003, Congress passed legislation to name the newly constructed Federal building in Youngstown, Ohio, the "Nathaniel R. Jones Federal Building and United States Courthouse;" and

WHEREAS, in 2019, the University of Cincinnati College of Law renamed its Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice after Judge Nathaniel R. Jones, to honor the "commitment to and alignment with the principles of Judge Jones' impressive career as a champion for justice;" and

WHEREAS, Judge Nathaniel Jones devoted his life to the tireless pursuit of justice and had an extraordinary and impactful legal career which spanned decades and provided inspiration to generations of lawyers, law clerks, and embodied the principles, mission and vision; and

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP, during this 111th Annual National Convention, pauses to acknowledge, appreciate and celebrate the life, legacy, and major contribution of the Honorable Judge Jones; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution will be placed in the NAACP archives and given to the family of the Honorable Nathaniel Raphael Jones.

Derrick Lewis - Youth & College Hero

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