Portman’s bipartisan Senate resolution honors civil rights activist Judge Nathaniel Jones

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) this month introduced a bipartisan resolution to honor the life and legacy of Nathaniel R. Jones, a civil rights activist and Youngstown, Ohio, native who served as the state’s first African-American federal appeals court judge and as the first black prosecutor in the Northern District of Ohio. 

“We lost a giant in Judge Nathaniel Jones,” who died on Jan. 26 at his home in Cincinnati, said Sen. Portman. “Through his work as a lawyer, he was a national leader in advancing civil rights and as a judge a distinguished champion in protecting those rights. 

“Through it all, he was a humble man of the highest integrity,” Sen. Portman said. “I’m proud to introduce this resolution honoring my friend Nate Jones.”

Sen. Portman introduced the Senate resolution with sponsor U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), which states that Judge Jones attended Youngstown State University, where he earned an undergraduate degree in 1951 and a law degree in 1955; served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II; and then served 23 years as a judge on the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

“Judge Jones devoted his entire life to answering the call for racial justice, and his unwavering commitment to this country is one we should all aspire to emulate,” said Sen. Brown. 

President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967 appointed Jones the assistant general counsel for the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, also known as the Kerner Commission, which issued a final report that determined racism was causing civil unrest in cities across America during the 1960s, and that the U.S. was “moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal.” 

Jones also served as the General Counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from 1969 to 1979 and received 19 honorary degrees and numerous awards of distinction, including the Spingarn Medal, the NAACP’s highest honor.