James Wesley Jones was born in LaComerant, Mississippi on October
30, 1935. His family
moved to Memphis, Tennessee when he was a child, and he attended elementary
school and high school there. Next, his family moved to Detroit, Michigan.
In Detroit, he participated in an oratorical contest. His speech,
"I'm Going to Be Somebody Someday," won him a scholarship
to La Moine College.
In 1959, Jones
was ordained a minister and preached his first sermon on the second
Sunday in February at the New Liberty Baptist Church. With the support
of the pastor and the congregation, he entered the Detroit Bible School
for a year and then continued his studies at the American Baptist
Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee.
After a fruitful ministry in his home church, Rev. Jones was called
to lead Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in Lincoln Heights, Ohio. He preached
his first sermon at Mt. Moriah in January 1965 and was installed pastor
six months later. During his early years as pastor, he lead the church
out of debt and into a secure financial future. He organized numerous
church groups and led ministries in the areas of mission outreach,
health care, youth development, Christian education and community
outreach. Rev. Jones served Mt. Moriah Baptist Church for 32 years
before resigning in 1997. He then founded the Greater New Moriah Missionary
Baptist Church in Carthage.
Rev. Jones has served the local community in numerous ways. He was
president of the Cincinnati Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership
Conference and of the Valley Improvement Association Foundation. He
has served as chairman of Blacks Concerned for Justice and Equality
in Media and as president of Black Cultural Productions. He is a member
of the NAACP and
was a trustee of the Cincinnati Bible College.
In 1970, Rev. Jones led a campaign against hunger and malnutrition.
His work led to an increase in the number of free lunches offered
through the School Lunch Program and through the development of eight
Breakfast Centers. Jones also led an Operation Breadbasket team against
local and national companies in order to develop job opportunites
for African Americans. He has gained national attention for his work
with the local broadcasting industry to increase the number of African
Americans in broadcasting jobs and to have more African American programs
on local radio and television.
In 1979, Rev. Jones, as chairman of the Coalition for Justice and
Equality, called for a boycott of stores in downtown Cincinnati to
protest a city plan to give .357 magnum pistols to police officers
and to demand more jobs for African Americans in city government.
In 2001, Rev. Jones again called for an international boycott of Cincinnati
following the police shooting of an African American youth and a few
days of civil unrest. His group, The Coalition for a Just Cincinnati,
called on Cincinnati City Council to be more responsive to the needs
of the African American community.
To learn more about Rev. James W. Jones, consult the following
Rev. James Wesley Jones Papers, 1961-1979
This collection contains correspondence, clippings, notes, printed
materials and other items pertaining to Rev. James W. Jones and
his involvement in Cincinnati's African American community. It includes
materials about the Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, the Cincinnati
chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Black Cultural
Productions, Inc., and the Cincinnati Human Relations Panel. An register to
these papers is available in the Library. Request slip
Sources Used for Biographical Sketch:
Rev. James Wesley Jones Papers, 1961-1979,
Mss 938, Cincinnati History Library and Archives, Cincinnati
"Blacks Asked to Boycott Business,"Cincinnati
Enquirer, July 17, 1979.
"Rally Leaders Say Blacks Must Unite to Reach
Goals," Cincinnati Enquirer, August 13, 1979.
"I Didn't Expect Anything Overnight: Boycott
Leader Continues Struggle across Decades," Cincinnati Enquirer,
July 20, 2001.
"Leader of Boycott: Hearts Have Hardened," Cincinnati
Enquirer, February 17, 2002.