Civil Rights Pioneer Rev. E. Edward Jones Dies

Influential social and civil rights pioneer Rev. E. Edward Jones has died.

He was 85.

Jones was a longtime pastor of Galilee Missionary Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana. He was instrumental in creating Galilee City, an effort which helped revitalize Shreveport’s Allendale neighborhood.

“He leaves a lasting legacy difficult to live up to, but easy to follow,” Rev. Theron J. Jackson of Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church said during an interview with USA Today.

In 1965, Rev. Jones filed a suit on behalf of his daughter, Beryl Jones that spearheading the desegregation of the Caddo Parish School System. That same year, Beryl, along with two other students, became the first Black students to attend an all-white school in Caddo Parish.

“Rev. Jones was a true friend and supporter who not only touched my life, but the lives of so many in this city, state, and nation,” Mayor Ollie Tyler wrote in a statement to The Times. “His dedication to the Galilee Missionary Baptist Church and love for his community has improved the quality of life for so many in this city. I will miss his generous heart and ability to connect people from all walks of life.”

The old Galilee church was a meeting place for civil rights protests and marches. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke there twice to encourage Blacks to vote. Jones worked closely with King through the Southern Christian Leadership Conference after meeting him in 1957.

Jones also served as president of the National Baptist Convention of America. He was also listed as one of EBONY’s “100 Most Influential Blacks in America.”