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Mourners pay last respects to Cincinnati civil rights icon Nathaniel Jones

Posted at 7:51 PM, Jan 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-29 20:02:14-05

Former colleagues, family and friends paid their respects Wednesday night to late judge and Cincinnati civil rights icon Nathaniel Jones, who died Sunday at the age of 93.

“I was just thinking as I was walking up here how lucky I am that I got to have conversations with him and hear from him about some of his experiences,” ex-colleague Luke Blocker said outside Corinthian Baptist Church, where Jones’ visitation was held. “To get to work at the Freedom Center and also just be in Cincinnati and have this person here who had such an enormous impact across the country and across the world.” 

RELATED: Our complete obituary for Nathaniel Jones, who changed black lives across Cincinnati and the country

Jones, born in 1926, became the first black assistant United States attorney in Ohio history, worked to desegregate American schools and advocated for the end of South Africa’s own system of segregation, Apartheid.

He was appointed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals as a judge in 1979; in 1995, he became a senior judge on the same court and remained there until his 2002 retirement.

Mourners will be able to attend a second visitation at Corinthian Baptist on Thursday, before Jones’ remains are interred.

"Judge Jones was a giant among us,” said Jan-Michelle Lemon Kearney, publisher of the Cincinnati Herald, shortly after his death. “I don't even know if we realize it day to day — I mean, he changed the course of history. … I often wonder will they ever replace him with another African American; will there be an opportunity for someone to be on that high level of a court in this district that can have a different perspective than the usual."