Milton Jones, 89: Created opportunities, fought for equality

Mr. Jones operated event venues, started scout troops and coached neighborhood basketball teams, friends and family said.

"He may not have marched with the others, but he worked just as hard in our community," said his son and namesake, Milton Jones Jr., of Atlanta. "When he saw a void he tried to fill it."

Milton Hermes Jones Sr., of Atlanta, died Friday at Budd Terrace Nursing Home, from complications of pancreatitis and diabetes. He was 89. A funeral service is planned for 11 a.m. Friday at St. Paul of the Cross Catholic Church, Atlanta. Arrangements are being handled by Willie A. Watkins Funeral Home.

Mr. Jones, a World War II Army veteran, took a job at Lockheed Aircraft in 1952 as an assemblyman. But as the years passed, he found himself fighting for equality on the job, his son said. For years he'd been taking a supervisor's test, hoping for a promotion, but year after year he was told he didn't pass the exam. It wasn't until the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was formed that Mr. Jones, and several other blacks at the company, had a forum for challenging what they'd been told. The younger Mr. Jones said his father was part of a group that sued the aircraft giant, and in the process found out they had all passed the exam for years. He eventually was promoted to a supervisor and retired as such in 1985.

"He just wanted equality," Mr. Jones said of his father. "He felt blacks deserved the same things that whites had."

The elder Mr. Jones' quest for equality spilled over into social opportunities, too. As a manager of an old Auburn Avenue club called the Poinciana, he made sure blacks could see "outstanding entertainers to play," said Eugene Thomas, a friend of more than 50 years. He also worked at the Magnolia Ballroom, in Vine City, and in later years he co-owned and operated the Oasis Ballroom, which was on Bankhead Highway.

"One of the things I always liked about him was, he always had a plan for what he was about to do," Mr. Thomas said. "And it was always for the good of the community."

In addition to his son, Mr. Jones is survived by his wife of 69 years, Helen Laster Jones of Atlanta; daughter, Miltona "Cookie" Bryson of College Park; brother, Weldon B. Jones of Atlanta; sister, Henrietta Thrasher of Atlanta; four grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and two great-great grandchildren.

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