Retired Federal Judge Nathaniel R. Jones on ‘Answering the Call’

Mar 8, 2017

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with the Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones, of counsel with law firm Blank/Rome, LLP, retired judge with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and author of Answering the Call: An Autobiography of the Modern Struggle to End Racial Discrimination in America.

Judge Jones is an unsung hero of the civil rights movement. His story should serve as an inspiration to young and old alike who face discrimination because of their race, religion, sexual orientation or gender.

As the title states, the work is devoted to the life of an individual but it is also the story of a civil rights struggle and its impact on one man. Judge Jones’s path-breaking career was forged in the 1960s: as the first African-American assistant U.S. attorney in Ohio; as assistant general counsel of the Kerner Commission; and, beginning in 1969, as general counsel of the NAACP.

In that latter role, Jones coordinated attacks against Northern school segregation -- a vital, divisive and poorly understood chapter in the movement for equality -- twice arguing in the pivotal U.S. Supreme Court case Bradley v. Milliken, which addressed school desegregation in Detroit. He also led the national response to the attacks against affirmative action, spearheading and arguing many of the signal legal cases of that effort.