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Kentucky Forefathers of New York’s Rev. William A. Jones, Jr.

November 4, 2010 in 1960s-1970s, Genealogy

I began looking up different churches in Lexington that were around during the Civil Rights Movement. I came across a website and found Rev. William A. Jones, Jr.’s name, so I decided to look up more about him. Google was overflowing with information and articles about him – born in Louisville and growing up in Lexington – so I decided to take a look.

Rev. Dr. William Augustus Jones, Jr. (1934-2006)

Rev. Dr. William Augustus Jones, Jr. (1934-2006)

Before his death, Jones eventually had a 5,000 member church in Brooklyn. Reverend Jones was the grandson of the late Reverend Dr. Henry Wise Jones, Sr., of Green Street Baptist Church (in Louisville) and the son of the Reverend Dr. William Augustus Jones, Sr., of Pleasant Green Baptist Church, Lexington.

Reverend William A. Jones, Sr., KY Civil Rights Hall of Fame

Reverend William A. Jones, Sr. (1907-1968)

Reverend Jones, Sr. (1907-1968) was a very influential voice during the Civil Rights Movement and was the advisor of the Lexington chapter of CORE, or Congress of Racial Equality. It was in part because of Reverend Jones Sr. that the first African American City Councilman, Harry N. Sykes, was elected in Lexington.  He stood out publicly in opposition to the closing of Dunbar High School where hist children had graduated. After he died, Rev. Jones, Sr. was also the first African American to be buried in the Lexington Cemetery, which before had only been for white people.

The three generations of Rev. Jones are great to learn more about considering how many firsts they accomplished and helped to accomplish for the black community, not only in Kentucky, but in other parts of the country also.

4 responses to Kentucky Forefathers of New York’s Rev. William A. Jones, Jr.

  1. Reverend Jones obviously did many great things for the black community in this city. It is not surprising that he was buried in a cemetery traditionally against burying black people, since he was such a progressive activist.

  2. The history of Kentucky is vast, but not documented as well as other states. This is really neat that you found Reverend Jones and his lists fo accomplishments!

  3. And – if you get a chance … listen to the oral history tape in the UK Libraries (call number 79OH74 KH139) by the widow of Pastor W.A. Jones of Pleasant Green Baptist Church [note the error on the oral history site – the name of the church is NOT Pleasant Grove]. According to the interviewer (Edward Owens ), Mrs. Jones attended Kentucky State College and moved to Lexington in 1932. In this interview (dated January 9, 1979), she discusses the first sit-in held during Lexington’s civil rights movement, the role of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, and the first African Americans ever served at the Phoenix Hotel. She recalls the reaction accorded the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) by the white community, Lexington’s African American cemetery, and other forms of segregation and discrimination. Mrs. Jones also reminisces about activist Abby Marlatt, newspaperman Fred Wachs, and her husband.

    • Hello, Dr. Hollingsworth. All of this you say of my grandfather and grandmother, Rev. and Mrs. William Augustus Jones, Sr., is true, except the name of our church is Pleasant Green Baptist Church, founded in 1790 by slaves, located on Maxwell Street here in Lexington. I’ve tried to get Dr. Boyd to make that correction. Perhaps I should ask our friend, Dr. Gerald Smith, to see about it. Pleasant Green is one of the oldest black churches in the nation and the oldest black church west of the Allegheny Mountains. My parents are found in the same oral history project, as they both, LaMont Jones, Jr. (son of Rev. William A. Jones and Mary E. Jones) and Kay Grimes Jones, were active in CORE and UK students. As a matter of fact, my father led the first lunch counter sit-in that drew national attention. Also interesting is that Dr. Marlatt drove my mother to the meetings from campus to Pleasant Green for CORE meetings. They all were brave souls. It’s truly a rich history.

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