Sam H. Jones

Sam H. Jones
(3/3/1928 – 3/26/2006)

Photo credit: Indianapolis Urban League

Sam Jones was born in 1928 in Heidelberg, Mississippi. In 1950, he graduated from Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia, then continued his education, earning an MA in Sociology in 1954 and an MSW in 1956, both from Atlanta University. His career with the Urban League, a civil rights and urban advocacy organization founded in 1910, began in 1955 when he accepted a position as Industrial Relations Secretary and Director of Vocational Education at the Cleveland Urban League. He later served as Executive Director of the Pontiac, Michigan Urban League from 1961-1963, and at St. Paul, Minnesota from 1963-1966.

In 1966, Jones became the first Executive Director (and later President) of the Indianapolis Urban League, which was incorporated in late 1965. He held this post until he retired on December 31, 2002. Jones focused the organization on a goal of bringing social and economic progress to Blacks in Indianapolis while striving to maintain a non-partisan, interracial identity that would improve the lives of all residents through education, housing, healthcare, and civil rights reforms.

Jones sought to achieve these goals by working with other community organizations. By gathering data about local poverty, housing, health care, crime, etc., the Urban League helped other organizations work towards their goals through scholarships, job counseling and placement, and community conferences.

Jones also broadened his knowledge and service by memberships in groups such as the Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis, the Boy Scouts Council, the Rotary Club, the NAACP, and the Scottish Rite. He completed several executive programs including the Harvard Executive Management Program, the IUPUI School of Philanthropy, and the Michigan State University School of Law Enforcement.

Jones was the recipient of many honors and awards, including the Sagamore of the Wabash Award, and honorary degrees from Vincennes University, Butler University, Martin University, Indiana University, and the Christian Theological Seminary. Mayor Bart Peterson established the Sam Jones Race Relations Diversity Award to recognize companies that show an outstanding commitment to diversity. A segment of highway running from I-465 to Raymond Street was renamed the Sam Jones Expressway while the Sam H. Jones Center, the home of the Indianapolis Urban League, was opened in 2001 along historic Indiana Avenue.

Jones died in 2006 at age 75. He and his wife, Prethenia, had three children: Marya, Sam Jr., and Michael.

Location: Section 103, Lot 209; GPS (39.8174209,-86.1695842)