Calling hours begin in Cincinnati this evening for retired federal judge, lawyer, civil rights activist, and Youngstown native Judge Nathaniel Jones, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 93.

Visitation is scheduled Wednesday, January 29, 2020, from 5 pm to 8 pm at Corinthian Baptist Church, 1920 Tennessee Ave. Cincinnati.

Calling hours continue Thursday, January 30, 2020, from 10 pm until noon at the church with full military services.

Born in Youngstown in 1926, his father worked in the steel city's steel mills and as a janitor. His mother was a homemaker and was employed as a domestic.

Judge Jones attended public school in Youngstown and, after serving in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II, he received his undergraduate and law degrees at Youngstown State University through the G.I. Bill of Rights.

Judge Jones began his professional career as Executive Director of the Fair Employment Practices Commission of Youngstown, Ohio. A year after entering the general practice of law, he was the first African American appointed as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio in Cleveland.

In 1967, Judge Jones served as Assistant General Counsel to President Johnson's National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, also known as the Kerner Commission, which studied the causes of the urban riots of the Sixties. Afterward, Judge Jones returned to Youngstown to practice law as a founding partner in the law firm of Goldberg and Jones.

In 1969, NAACP Executive Director Roy Wilkins asked Jones to serve as the organization's General Counsel, a position he held from 1969 to 1979.

As General Counsel, Judge Jones coordinated the attack against northern school segregation and twice argued the Detroit school case, Bradley v. Milliken, before the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Jones also spearheaded successful attacks against segregation in the nation's public schools across the country, directed the national response to the attacks against affirmative action, led an inquiry into discrimination against black servicemen in the military, and supervised the NAACP's defense in the Mississippi Boycott case, which led to a landmark Supreme Court decision that recognized the rights of individuals and organizations to engage in protests under the First Amendment.

Judge Jones was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit by President Carter in 1979 and served with great distinction for 23 years, publishing scores of opinions and law review articles, and serving on a number of government committees and special bodies.

In addition to his judicial duties, Judge Jones participated in a variety of activities, including serving as an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, instructor in the trial advocacy program at the Harvard Law School, and adjunct professor at the Criminal Law Institute of Atlanta University.

Judge Jones has also lectured and judged moot court competitions at numerous law schools, including Yale, New York University, and Georgetown. He is the holder of 17 honorary degrees.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Judge Jones played an important role in furthering the abolition of apartheid in South Africa. The drafters of South Africa's new constitution and laws consulted him, and he conferred with Nelson Mandela upon Mandela's release from 27 years of imprisonment.

Following his retirement from the Sixth Circuit in 2002, Judge Jones assumed a position as Of Counsel with Blank Rome LLP. He serves as an honorary co-chair and director of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. He participates in a variety of other activities and has served as a member of the Toyota Motor Manufacturing, North America, Inc. Diversity Advisory Board, the KnowledgeWorks Foundation Board of Directors, and the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative Board of Directors.

Judge Jones has authored numerous articles and papers and has been the recipient of many honors and awards, including the 2002 Professionalism Award for the Sixth Circuit by the American Inns of Court; the 2002 Thurgood Marshall Award from the National Bar Association's Judicial Council, induction into the National Bar Association Hall of Fame, and in February 1997, he was recognized by the Chamber of Commerce as one of the "Great Living Cincinnatians."

Judge Jones's memoir, Answering the Call: An Autobiography on the Modern Struggle to End Racial Segregation in America, published in 2016, is an extraordinary eyewitness account of the battle for racial equality in America. Judge Jones founded The Answering the Call to Justice Foundation in 2017 to provide new generations with the lessons and tools he learned in his long career so that they may continue the next leg of the journey toward racial justice in the twenty-first century.

In 2003, the Nathaniel R. Jones Federal Building and the United States Courthouse opened in Youngstown.

In 2016, Judge Jones was awarded the NAACP's 101st Spingarn Medal, the organization's highest honor, joining previous recipients that include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Hank Aaron, and Oprah Winfrey.

Active and working until the end of his life, Jones made his final public appearance on November 14, 2019, at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center at a dinner tribute celebrating the renaming and re-launching of the Nathaniel R. Jones Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. Jones was a center co-founder in 2010.

Special online condolences for family and friends may be expressed at