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A leading African American intellectual, Eugene Kinckle Jones (18851954) was instrumental in professionalizing black social work in America. Jones used his position was executive secretary of the National Urban League to work with social reformers advocating on behalf of African Americans and against racial discrimination. He also led the Urban League's efforts at campaigning for equal hiring practices and the inclusion of black workers in labor unions, and promoted the importance of vocational training and social work.
Drawing on interviews with Jones's colleagues and associates, as well as recently opened family and Urban League archives, Felix L. Armfield blends biography with an in-depth discussion of the roles of black institutions and organizations. The result is a work that offers new details on the growth of African American communities, the evolution of African American life, and the role of black social workers in the years before the civil rights era.
|Publisher:||University of Illinois Press|
|Edition description:||1st Edition|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
Felix L. Armfield is a professor of history and social studies education at Buffalo State College and the author of Black Life in West Central Illinois.
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EUGENE KINCKLE JONESThe National Urban League and Black Social Work, 1910–1940
By Felix L. Armfield
University of Illinois PressCopyright © 2012 Felix L. Armfield
All right reserved.
Chapter OneFrom Richmond to Ithaca
May the true spirit of fraternity rule our hearts, guide our thoughts, and control our lives, so that we may become, through thee, servants of all. —Alpha Phi Alpha, Fraternity Prayer
Eugene Kinckle Jones was born on July 30, 1885, to Joseph Endom Jones (1850–1922) and Rosa Daniel Kinckle Jones (1857–1931) of Richmond, Virginia. His parents were natives of Lynchburg, Virginia. Joseph Jones was born a slave in 1850.1 The Jones family traces its lineage to Sicily Jones, the slave of Maurice Langhorne. The Langhornes were longtime Virginia aristocrats. An invalid Confederate soldier taught Joseph Endom Jones to read and write during the Civil War.
Joseph Jones left Lynchburg for Richmond after the war, where he enrolled in Virginia Union University (formerly the Richmond Institute, sometimes referred to as Richmond Theological Seminary). The site had served as Lumpkin's jail, where Union prisoners were incarcerated; ironically, it was originally the location of Robert Lumpkin's slaveholding pens. The structure was "a two-story brick house with barred windows, located in the heart of Richmond's famous slave market"—considered by local blacks as "the Devil's Half Acre." Many black men and women saw Richmond as a symbol of the North's victory. At the end of March 1865, as the northern armies were surging toward Richmond and Petersburg, the final crumbling strongholds of southern resistance, black Union troops were viewed prominently in the moving lines of men.
Joseph Jones remained in Richmond until 1869, when a Norwich, Connecticut, bookbinder who was touring the South encouraged and supported his educational aspirations. He was sent by the bookbinder to Hamilton, New York, to be enrolled at Hamilton Academy. By 1876, Joseph Jones had completed studies in theology at Colgate University (formerly Hamilton Academy) with the help of northern white supporters. Joseph Jones returned to Richmond, the former capitol of the Confederacy, prepared to assist in the enormous work of educating the recently freed black population, conducted by liberal whites and progressive blacks. Second to only Washington, D.C., Richmond served as a hub of educational activity through the Freedman's Bureau and the American Baptist Home Mission Society. Unfortunately for Joseph Jones, he returned to Richmond at a time of unstable race relations. By 1876, white southerners were claiming redemption over congressional Reconstruction, and African Americans were reduced to second-class citizenship. Blacks in Richmond endured the same fate.
Rosa Daniel Kinckle Jones was born of free lineage in Lynchburg. Rosa's father, John Kinckle, had purchased his freedom, but her mother, Rachel Smith Kinckle, was born to a slave mother and her mother's white master. The master willed at his death that young Rachel be set free when she found a free African American man to marry. He also stipulated that she be given five hundred dollars. John Kinckle seemed a likely suitor. Though a former slave, he experienced an interesting career in the city of Lynchburg. Through "sacrifices, hard work, and self-confidence he gained the monopoly of the express business in his home city." John Kinckle was a porter and baggage handler at the railroad depot in Lynchburg. The city offered more opportunity for personal and material success than southern locales with a smaller black population. "Between 1860 and 1870, census statistics confirmed what the white South had already strongly suspected—a striking increase in the black urban population.... Three of Virginia's principal cities—Richmond, Norfolk, and Lynchburg—now had nearly as many blacks as whites," which encouraged many blacks to take their chances at economic success there.9 Richmond was the likely place of migration for most blacks leaving Lynchburg. Lynchburg was linked to Richmond through the James River and Kanawha Canal (see map 1). By 1860, the railroad had become the most sophisticated means of travel between the two cities. The historian Peter Rachleff concludes, "There were many reasons for coming to the capital. Some [blacks] saw immigration as a celebration of freedom. Black men with skills or particular aspirations might pick Richmond as the site of greater opportunity than existed in the rural areas and small towns." The Kinckle and Jones families' experiences paralleled that described by Robert Francis Engs in Freedom's First Generation: Black Hampton, Virginia, 1861–1890. Engs states: "Even in political and economic defeat, black Hampton's first free generation could look with pride at its major achievement: its children. They were well educated, ambitious, sophisticated in business, in education, and in the ways of the world, white as well as black, Northern as well as Southern. They and their descendants would continue to play a major role in American black life long after accommodation had been repudiated."
Though neither family was from Hampton, John Kinckle and Sicily Jones were in a position to look to their offspring with much pride. They would represent the best of "freedom's first generation" in Richmond. The historian Vincent Harding puts it best: "[T]he children of bondage were crossing over, bearing visions of a new land, challenging white America to a new life."
The Jones family was unique in the city of Richmond in the late nineteenth century, as the young married couple were both college educated. Joseph and Rosa Jones returned to Richmond by the early 1880s to begin their new lives in a city that had witnessed greater devastation than most southern cities during the latter days of the Civil War. One contemporary recalled, "[T]he future seemed bleak indeed for devastated, bankrupt Richmond, its people hungry and disconsolate, its soldiers returning penniless from the front, and many of its finest young men killed, or maimed for life." A great portion of Richmond's destruction was done by retreating southern troops: "[I]n April 1865 [they] set fire to supplies, arsenals, and bridges," causing more than eight million dollars in damages. The city struggled to mend itself in the aftermath of the war.
It is likely that the parents of Eugene Kinckle Jones knew of each other in their formative years in Lynchburg. Joseph Jones and Rosa Kinckle were married in 1882 in Richmond. Following their marriage vows, the two honeymooned in Norwich, Connecticut. The local papers made mention of a "Negro man and his bride who was the daughter of this former slave, John Kinckle."
The Joneses in Richmond were at the center of the emerging "black elite" or black middle class. One study concludes that E. K. Jones "was born into the black bourgeoisie." At the time of the collapse of Reconstruction in 1877, two aristocracies were evolving in black America: the aristocracy of culture and the aristocracy of wealth. Several factors determined whether one belonged to the black elite, including but not limited to "official station, position in the church, possession of money or real estate, former ownership, and city birth." One other leading concern was that "the color factor was also important in the stratification process." Accordingly, the Joneses and the Kinckles were initiated into the "black aristocracy" by the 1880s and were quite comfortable in its circles. The luxury of traveling to Norwich to honeymoon was growing among this burgeoning black middle class.
Joseph and Rosa Jones, both having attained their college education in the North during Reconstruction, returned to Richmond prepared to help uplift the black populace. The Joneses belonged to the group of African Americans that the historian Kevin Gaines refers to as "race men and women": they were altruistic in their approach to addressing the problems that beset black America following Reconstruction. They were also strong advocates of group solidarity as a means of racial uplift. In 1876, Joseph Jones was commissioned by the American Baptist Home Mission Society to join the faculty of Richmond Theological Seminary at Virginia Union University, an all-black college, although most of its faculty at the time were white. He was one of the first instructors to aid with the further development of Virginia Union University.
He was eventually promoted to chair of Homiletics and Greek Studies and served the institution until his death in 1922. One contemporary recorded, "Professor Jones is an efficient teacher, a popular and instructive preacher, and a forcible writer." Virginia Union University's majority-white faculty strongly rejected "an emphasis on industrial skills and consciously provided an education for the Talented Tenth." The school was strictly opposed to Booker T. Washington's ideas of racial accomodationism and advocated more liberal attitudes. Though Washington's Tuskegee Institute–model of industrial education was in vogue by the late nineteenth century, it was not the standard for all black colleges. Virginia Union held to its ideals of a liberal-arts educational program. Joseph Jones supported these ideas and transmitted them to his son, Eugene Kinckle Jones. Whether Jones was more aligned with Washington or DuBois would be tested throughout his stint with the NUL. He appears to have been more Washingtonian when it came to the NUL as an institution and its operational procedures. However, in his personal life and professional contacts, he strictly adhered to DuBois's talented-tenth theory.
Rosa Daniel Kinckle graduated from Howard University in 1880, a time when many were still questioning whether women should be educated, and if so to what extent. Rosa Kinckle was one of the first ten women to graduate from Howard's Normal Department. She would receive further training at the New England Conservatory of Music before returning south to Richmond as the wife of Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Jones.
On July 30, 1885, the Joneses gave birth to their first and only child, Eugene Kinckle Jones. Rosa joined the faculty of Hartshorn Memorial College in 1888 as a teacher of music. Hartshorn was established in 1883 for the education of African American girls, and it was named in honor of its donor, Joseph C. Hartshorn of Rhode Island. According to an article in The Messenger, the school was always associated with the "choicest women workers." "Its educational standards are high, but most important of all it places special emphasis upon the development of the moral and religious life. Its spirit and life are pre-eminently Christian." Rosa Kinckle Jones belonged to this elite group of Christian women. She served as head of the music department at Hartshorn for forty years. Hartshorn eventually merged with Virginia Union University in 1932, one year after Rosa Jones's death. She worked at the school during a period when it struggled to maintain a separate institutional identity from that of Virginia Union University. Hartshorn's trustees wanted it to remain an institution for African American girls.
Rosa Jones distinguished herself at Hartshorn and within the city of Richmond as a pianist. The historian Rayford Logan stated, "A few, like Rosa D. Kinckle (Mrs. Joseph E. Jones), ... not only taught but were wives of men who served well their communities and the Nation and were mothers of children who attended excellent schools." The newlyweds settled at 520 St. James Street in Richmond, determined to build a life for themselves and their infant son despite the collapse of Reconstruction and deteriorating race relations. The Jones family home was in the environs of some of Richmond's most prominent black families. Richmond's modest black upper class could boast that "there were similar antebellum concentrations of homeowning free Negroes on Duval, on the 500 block of West Baker ... St. James, St. Peter, and St. Paul Streets."
During Reconstruction, blacks in Richmond experienced a peculiar level of participation in the city's government and municipalities. The historian Howard Rabinowitz claims that Richmond's blacks were "more fortunate" than those in other southern urban centers during Reconstruction. In 1870, Virginia received its first black justice of the peace in Henrico County, which included Richmond. In 1879, Virginia's former politicians—who were supposedly its "best people"—were removed from both houses of the legislature. By the 1870s, a new group of white leaders who did not belong to Virginia's aristocratic class took office. Many of them were "opportunists and some were even erratic visionaries given to supporting any minority cause." The historian Michael B. Chesson discovered that, ironically, black participation in city government did not begin until after Reconstruction in Richmond, between 1871 and 1896. This can be attributed to the fact that most of Richmond's black populace resided in the all-black Jackson Ward. By the 1890s, Richmond had begun to take steps to rezone the city's traditional voting districts, breaking up Jackson Ward. Some would argue that by the mid- 1870s, Virginia was one of the southern states that "had already reverted to Democratic rule." Richmond politics were different than statewide politics as a result of the larger black population.
Between 1871 and 1898, thirty-three blacks held positions on Richmond's city council. Though Reconstruction had ended throughout the South by 1877, blacks in Richmond expressed meaningful hope through participation in the city's new government. Chesson further concludes that political activities historians have usually associated with Reconstruction continued well into the 1890s in Richmond. From 1871 to 1898, blacks in Richmond were visible in "officeholding, widespread voting, alliances with white Republicans of various factions, intense competition for office ... and variously successful Republican appeals to Congress and the federal courts for relief from Bourbon oppression."
In the 1870s, the Richmond city council began efforts to destroy any cooperative race relations in the city, which aided in the further collapse of Reconstruction. "Richmond officials sought to confine Negro voters to Jackson Ward in an effort to restrict their political power." By the 1880s, race relations in Richmond, as in much of the South, had significantly deteriorated. Most black citizens were denied city jobs either because of their race or because they were Republicans. The city council created the majority-black ward of Jackson to assure Democratic dominance. Jackson Ward represented the first gerrymandering efforts in Richmond, which allowed for the other five wards to be overwhelmingly Democratic. This contributed to ending radical Reconstruction in Richmond. All of the thirty-three black councilmen represented Jackson Ward. In 1890, 79 percent of the population in Jackson Ward was black. Though 30 percent of the black population lived throughout the white wards, Jackson was commonly referred to as the Black Belt. The Joneses settled in Jackson Ward, "the most famous concentration of blacks." (See map 1.)
Black political power in Richmond was heavily concentrated in Jackson Ward, which was bounded on the west and north by Bacon Quarter Branch, on the east by Shockoe Creek, and to the south by Leigh Street. By 1890, Jackson's black population was 13,530 of Richmond's total black population of 32,330. The Joneses' middle-class status enabled young Eugene Kinckle Jones to see and reach beyond Jackson Ward, where he was born in 1885. This represents the paradoxical nature of freedom's first generation in Richmond.
By the 1890s, cooperative race relations had deteriorated rapidly in the old Confederate capitol. In 1890, a major lack of respect was dealt to the black community of Richmond: city leaders extended an expansion project that "tore up Richmond's historic black cemetery, in which many of the city's most famous slaves and free Negroes had been buried." As a further insult, the relocation of the remains was not revealed.
Excerpted from EUGENE KINCKLE JONES by Felix L. Armfield Copyright © 2012 by Felix L. Armfield. Excerpted by permission of University of Illinois Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
1. From Richmond to Ithaca....................7
2. Building Alliances....................23
3. An Era of National Conflict and Cooperation....................36
4. Between New York and Washington....................50
5. Changing of the Guard....................64