University of Wisconsin–Madison

Law School mourns the loss of Professor James E. Jones Jr.

  James E. Jones Jr., 1924-2014
The University of Wisconsin Law School community mourns the loss of Professor Emeritus James E. Jones Jr., who passed away November 21 following a lengthy illness.

A pioneer in equal employment and affirmative action policy, Professor Jones taught labor law and arbitration for nearly 30 years at the Law School, and in 1991, was named Nathan P. Feinsinger Professor of Labor Law. He was the Law School’s first African-American faculty member.

Professor Jones was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1924. After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he received a bachelor’s degree in government from Lincoln University in Missouri. He went on to earn a master’s degree in industrial relations from the University of Illinois in 1951, and a law degree from UW Law School in 1956.

After law school, Professor Jones moved to Washington, D.C., to serve as an attorney with the U.S. Department of Labor. There, he worked on historic legislation, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Philadelphia Plan, a groundbreaking affirmative action program for government contractors. By the time he left Washington to join the Law School faculty in 1971, he had been promoted to the post of associate solicitor, the highest position a non-political employee could hold in the department.

Years after his retirement, Professor Jones’ impact is still felt at UW Law School and beyond. Notably, in 1973, he founded the William H. Hastie Teaching Fellowship. The LL.M. degree program, which prepares lawyers of color for tenure-track faculty positions, is the oldest teaching fellowship of its kind, and nationally, one of just a handful in existence. A group of former Hastie Fellows and colleagues honored Professor Jones’ influence in the legal academy with a series of tribute essays published in the Wisconsin Law Review in 2013.

In 2006, UW Law School published Professor Jones' book “Hattie’s Boy,” named in honor of his grandmother. The autobiography is an epic telling of America’s story as Professor Jones experienced it — through the Depression, World War II, Brown v. Board of Education and post-Brown desegregation, the civil rights movement, and affirmative action. He called it his final ‘homework,’ assigned by inquisitive students who wished to know more about their teacher's past.

Professor Jones is survived by his wife of 54 years, Joan T. Jones; a daughter, Evan; a son, Peter; and a grandson, Spencer.

James Jones' faculty profile

Submitted by Law School News on December 17, 2014

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