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UC College of Law Renames Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice in Honor of Judge Nathaniel R. Jones

Judge Jones

Blank Rome LLP is proud to announce that the University of Cincinnati (“UC”) College of Law has renamed its Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice in honor of civil rights leader, activist, and retired judge Nathaniel R. Jones, who has been with Blank Rome since 2002 and served as the Firm’s first Chief Officer for Diversity and Inclusion.

UC College of Law officially announced the news in October 2019, and a formal reception and dinner to honor the newly named Judge Nathaniel R. Jones Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice (or the “Jones Center”) was held on Thursday, November 14, 2019, at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, where an inspiring video of interviews with Judge Jones and leaders and students of the Center was launched to commemorate the important occasion.

“I am truly humbled that the Center has been renamed the Judge Nathaniel R. Jones Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice, in honor of my lifelong commitment to social activism and change,” said Judge Jones. “I would like to think that, throughout my life, I have served as an important link to the great people of the past and my own generation. I hope that what I have said, what I have done, and what I have written over the course of my long career can serve as an example for another important link to come along and continue the path forward to a more just and equal society.”

“We are so incredibly proud of Judge Jones and his lifetime commitment to advancing social justice,” stated Grant S. Palmer, Blank Rome’s Managing Partner and CEO. “His personal and professional achievements and historical milestones are a testament to his outstanding character, integrity, and dedication to the field of law, and we are honored to continue celebrating the invaluable impact that he has made and continues to make not only here at our Firm, but also throughout the legal industry and our communities.”

The Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice was founded in 2010 with a mission to train and cultivate scholars, leaders, and activists committed to social change. With four major programs, the Center builds on decades of success to provide students with real-world opportunities to make a difference, from supporting clients in a domestic violence clinic to working on the internationally renowned social justice publication, The Freedom Center Journal. To learn more, please visit

About Judge Nathaniel R. Jones

In 1962, Judge Jones became the first African American to be appointed as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio in Cleveland. He held that position until his 1967 appointment as Assistant General Counsel to President Lyndon B. Johnson's National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, also known as the Kerner Commission. He held the position of General Counsel of the NAACP from 1969 to 1979, where he directed all NAACP litigation. In addition to personally arguing several cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, he coordinated national efforts to end northern school segregation, defend affirmative action, and inquire into discrimination against black servicemen in the U.S. military. He also successfully coordinated the NAACP's defense on First Amendment grounds in the Mississippi Boycott case.

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter nominated Judge Jones to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He served on the court for 23 years, retiring in 2002. On February 20, 2003, in recognition of his outstanding career as a jurist and civil rights leader, Congress passed H.J. Res. 2 naming the Nathaniel R. Jones Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Youngstown, Ohio.

Judge Jones taught trial advocacy at Harvard Law School and is now an adjunct professor at UC College of Law, in addition to serving as of counsel at Blank Rome LLP. He is the holder of 19 honorary degrees and has received numerous honors and awards in recognition of his impressive legal career and accomplishments. In addition, he is a member of more than two dozen civic and community organizations. In May 2016, Judge Jones’ memoir, Answering The Call: An Autobiography of the Modern Struggle to End Racial Discrimination in America, was published by The New Press.

Watch the full UC College of Law video on Judge Jones and the Jones Center below.