Baton Rouge civil rights trailblazer, World War II veteran dies at 102

Baton Rouge is mourning the loss a World War 2 veteran and civil rights activist who played a key role in the 1953 Baton Rouge Bus Boycott.
Published: Apr. 23, 2022 at 9:13 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 23, 2022 at 9:47 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Loved ones say Dr. Johnnie A. Jones Sr., a civil rights attorney who played a key role in the 1953 Baton Rouge Bus Boycott, has died.

Mada McDonald, a goddaughter of Jones, said he passed away early Saturday morning, April 23, at the Veterans facility in Jackson, La. He was 102-years-old.

Johnnie A. Jones Sr.
Johnnie A. Jones Sr.(WAFB)

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Dr. Jones was born Nov. 30, 1919, in Laurel Hill, La. where he was raised on Rosemound Plantation by his parents who farmed 73 acres of land. At 22, he tested as the first Black soldier for the position of Warrant Officer in the military. He returned from Mississippi to Louisiana during the Jim Crow South era, and he worked selling insurance to Black families around the state. He was also very involved with the NAACP.

Last year, when he was 101 years old, state leaders honored Jones with a Purple Heart. He was a World War II veteran who earned the Purple Heart honor for fighting while injured on the beaches of Normandy.

Johnnie A. Jones Sr. is honored in June of 2021 as a Purple Heart recipient at age 101.
Johnnie A. Jones Sr. is honored in June of 2021 as a Purple Heart recipient at age 101. (WAFB)

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Jones received numerous awards, certificates, plaques, and medals over his lifetime in the Baton Rouge community, and he was recognized on local, state, national, and international levels, said McDonald.

“We truly appreciate his untiring works in the Baton Rouge Community,” said McDonald.

Among his accomplishments and achievements were the following: attorney and spokesperson for the 1953 Baton Rouge Bus Boycott; Sign Post To Freedom; award from the Odell S. Williams Museum/ Sadie Roberts Joseph; special recognition from Gov. John Bel Edwards; SAVE BR Youth Prayer Movement; a World War II veteran; Taking A Seat For Justice-Award of Excellence; Southern University National Lawyers Guild – Pillar Award; Chairman Award- Civil Rights Icon – LA Black Caucus Foundation; Louis A. Martinet Society – Lifetime Achievement; Purple Heart Award; Southern University Law Center – Conferred Degree of Juris Doctor; recognized by the Louisiana Black History Hall of Fame; and Baton Rouge Chapter of The Links – Louisiana Role Model.

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Funeral arrangements for Jones are pending, said McDonald.

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