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Eugene Kinckle Jones

Eugene Kinckle Jones: The National Urban League and Black Social Work, 1910-1940

Felix L. Armfield
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 136
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  • Book Info
    Eugene Kinckle Jones
    Book Description:

    A leading African American intellectual of the early twentieth century, Eugene Kinckle Jones (1885-1954) was instrumental in professionalizing black social work in America. In his role as executive secretary of the National Urban League, Jones worked closely with social reformers who advocated on behalf of African Americans and against racial discrimination in the United States. Coinciding with the Great Migration of African Americans to northern urban centers in the early twentieth century, Jones's activities on behalf of the Urban League included campaigning for equal hiring practices, advocating for the inclusion of black workers in labor unions, and promoting the importance of vocational training and social work for members of the black community._x000B__x000B_Drawing on rich interviews with Jones's colleagues and associates, as well as recently opened family and Urban League papers, Felix L. Armfield freshly examines the growth of African American communities and the roles of social workers concerned with acculturative processes, social change, and racial uplift. In calling attention to the need for black social workers in the midst of the Great Migration, Jones and his Urban League colleagues sought to address problems stemming from race and class conflicts from within the community. Bringing together new biographical elements of a significant black leader, as well as an in-depth discussion of the roles of black institutions and organizations, this book studies the evolution of African American life immediately before the civil rights era.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09362-3
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    This book examines the life and work of Eugene Kinckle Jones (1885–1954), along with the rise of professional black social workers within the larger context of social work and its professionalization. In 1971, Guichard Parris and Lester Brooks published the first major history of the National Urban League (NUL), Blacks in the City: A History of the National Urban League. Parris and Brooks put forth this much-needed history during the black-power movement in America. Several factors prompted a need for this history. There was, at the time, no history of the Urban League, and Parris and Brooks wanted to...

  5. 1. From Richmond to Ithaca
    (pp. 7-22)

    Eugene Kinckle Jones was born on July 30, 1885, to Joseph Endom Jones (1850–1922) and Rosa Daniel Kinckle Jones (1857–1931) of Richmond, Virginia. His parents were natives of Lynchburg, Virginia. Joseph Jones was born a slave in 1850.¹ The Jones family traces its lineage to Sicily Jones, the slave of Maurice Langhorne. The Langhornes were longtime Virginia aristocrats.² An invalid Confederate soldier taught Joseph Endom Jones to read and write during the Civil War.

    Joseph Jones left Lynchburg for Richmond after the war, where he enrolled in Virginia Union University (formerly the Richmond Institute, sometimes referred to as...

  6. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  7. 2. Building Alliances
    (pp. 23-35)

    Social work was going through a professional transformation by the 1920s. In 1915, Abraham Flexner, a representative of the Carnegie Foundation, informed social workers that they were not professionals due to their field’s lack of a scientific methodology: “It lacks specificity of aim; social workers need to be well informed, well balanced, tactful, judicious, sympathetic, resourceful, but no definite kind or kinds of technical skills are needed.”¹ It was to this end that most social workers sought to create a reputable body of knowledge. Social workers considered themselves to be professionals as early as 1921. In their urgency to counter...

  8. 3. An Era of National Conflict and Cooperation
    (pp. 36-49)

    The 1920s and 1930s proved to be busy for Jones, as his schedule kept him quite mobile. As the national spokesperson for the NUL, he found his duties ever expanding. The 1920s were a decade of constantly changing climates—politically, socially, and economically—for African Americans throughout American society. In spite of the major cultural awakening in black America through the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, many African Americans found their economic and political status dismal at best. Many African Americans who migrated from the oppressive South found racial discrimination in housing, jobs, and education mounting in the North. In...

  9. 4. Between New York and Washington
    (pp. 50-63)

    The late 1920s ushered in a new day in national reform policies, and Eugene Kinckle Jones had proven himself as a progressive reformer. This chapter will closely examine his fund-raising activities, his relations with white philanthropists, and his position within the Department of Commerce during the New Deal.

    From 1900 through the 1970s, four American presidential administrations have been labeled as progressive: those of Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson.¹ Jones had political ties to the two presidents in office during his tenure with the NUL, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose administrations sought...

  10. 5. Changing of the Guard
    (pp. 64-78)

    As Jones returned to New York to resume his full-time position as executive secretary of the NUL, a changing climate was emerging within the social-work profession. Jones arrived in 1937 and began to engage directly in providing social-work services for black people. Major changes within the social-work profession, the NUL, and Jones’s personal life loomed on the horizon.

    Many social workers were convinced by Roosevelt’s second-term election that New Deal policies would effectively address major social woes. Particularly following the adoption of the Social Security Act in 1935, many social reformers, black and white, began looking to government- rather than...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 79-82)

    Eugene Kinckle Jones was born in racially polarized Richmond into a comfortable middle-class black family. Both of his college-educated parents were noted residents of the city. Jones grew to maturity during a period in American history in which the federal government no longer had an expressed interest in securing full citizenship rights for its black citizens. Further, the white South successfully denounced and denied Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendment rights to blacks.

    While growing up, Jones witnessed African American men and women struggling to hold on to the gains of Reconstruction. The black middle class in the late nineteenth century also...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 83-100)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 101-114)
  14. Index
    (pp. 115-116)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 117-119)