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Civil Rights Leader Charles Jones Has Died

Charlotte attorney and civil rights activist, Charles Jones, 80, at his west Charlotte home.
Todd Sumlin

Local civil rights leader Charles Jones died this week at the age of 82.

WBTV reports Friday that Jones passed away. 

Jones led a sit-in movement at Johnson C. Smith University in the early 1960s.

In 1961, he was charged with trespassing in York County for protesting the arrest of local activists known as the Friendship Nine, who had tried to integrate an all-white lunch counter. Jones spent a month in prison doing hard labor, a conviction that was vacated by York County in 2015.

After graduating from Johnson C. Smith University, he was a law student at Howard University when he attended the March on Washington in 1963. He spoke to WFAE about that experience in 2013 – 50 years after the march.

"I looked around and saw so many people," Jones said. "I had never seen that many people.  I said 'Oh my God.'  My spirit just began to lift and lift and lift, and I was awed at that moment at what was happening."

In the interview, Jones said he realized history was being made when King began his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

"And at that point I knew, brother," Jones said. "It wasn’t a question of believing.  I knew things were going to change."

Funeral arrangements for Jones have not yet been announced.

In April 2018 marking the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, WFAE heard from Mint Hill resident, Rev. Jesse Douglas Sr., 88, who marched with King and considered him a personal friend, as well as Civil Rights attorney Charles Jones, and the Rev. Brenda Stevenson, about their reflections on the aftermath of King's death.

Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.
Michael Falero is a radio reporter, currently covering voting and the 2020 election. He previously covered environment and energy for WFAE. Before joining WFAE in 2019, Michael worked as a producer for a number of local news podcasts based in Charlotte and Boston. He's a graduate of the Transom Story Workshop intensive on Cape Cod and UNC Chapel Hill.