Civil Rights Lawyer and Judge


Just a few blocks from the Smoky Hollow community in Youngstown, Ohio, where

Nathaniel R. Jones grew up, stands the Nathaniel R. Jones Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse.

This was certainly not something that Jones had dreamed of.

He was a good student and caught the eye of African American newspaper publisher,

Maynard Dickerson, while he was still in high school. Jones was soon writing

a sports column for the Buckeye Review. When Jones finished high school, he was enlisted into

the US Army Air Corps and served in Dayton, Ohio.


After his army experience, he returned home and attended Youngstown State University,

followed by Youngstown State University Law School. He worked for four years as a private

practice lawyer and then, in 1961, was appointed executive director of the Fair Employment

Practices Commission, where he could work on a federal level assuring that African Americans

had equal opportunities in employment. After Civil Rights Lawyer and Judge

this, he served on the Kerner Commission, which investigated the causes of the race riots that

began with the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.


Then Roy Wilkins, the Executive Director of the NAACP, asked him to lead their

law team. In Jones’ acceptance speech, he said, “We still live in the basement of the great

society.” As general counsel for the NAACP, he worked for integration of northern schools, affirmative

action, and equality in the US armed services.


In 1979, President Jimmy Carter nominated Jones as judge of the US Court of Appeals, and

he served in this position for twenty-three years. He retired in 2002, and he continues to

work as a lawyer in private practice. He has a wife and four children.



The History Makers.
honorable-nathiel-r-jones (accessed March 28, 2019).