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Leeland Newton Jones, Jr.

Born on 6-15-1921. He was born in Buffalo, NY. He was accomplished in the area of Politics. He later died on 8-13-2009.
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The Rev. Leeland Newton Jones Jr. was the first black member of the Buffalo Common Council. The Buffalo native spent the first six or seven years of his life sleeping in the bed of his grandfather, a former slave who had fled from the South.

He was student body president and captain of the football and debate teams at Technical High School and president of the student government at the University at Buffalo. He also attended UB Law School. Mr. Jones' studies at UB were interrupted by Army service during World War II. Mr. Jones served stateside after becoming the only black in his Officer Candidate School graduating class at Fort Monmouth, N. J.

He was with the 15th Signal Corps Regiment, where he was a cryptograph security officer. He was a member of the famed Tuskegee Air Corps.

Although accepted at West Point, he applied to the Naval Academy at the urging of others who thought he was a good candidate to break the color barrier there, Mr. Jones later told The Buffalo News. The accomplished athlete won appointment to the academy, but was inexplicably told he had failed his physical. "I didn't know a person could cry on the inside," he told The Buffalo News in 2004. "It hurt. It hurt badly."

At UB, Mr. Jones played on the football team and, in 1941, he became the first black member of an integrated UB football team to play on a field south of the Mason-Dixon Line. The night before the game, at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Mr. Jones stayed at the home of Carl J. Murphy, owner and publisher of the Afro American newspaper because hotels in the area wouldn't let him stay with his white teammates. Mr. Murphy had three daughters, and one, "Carlita Murphy,", became his wife. Mr. Jones's son, Dr. Leeland A. M., followed his father onto the gridiron and became a star running back for UB.

Mr. Jones' father, Leeland N. Sr., was a pioneer black funeral director in Buffalo and a supervisor on the old Erie County Board of Supervisors. Leeland Jr. also served on the Board of Supervisors from 1950 to 1951, when he was elected to the Common Council representing the Ellicott District. He served on the Council from 1952 through 1956.

Mr. Jones stayed deeply involved in community affairs over the years after leaving elective office. He held a number of positions, including field representative for the New York State Commission Against Discrimination, associate director of the Buffalo Urban League, a member of the Buffalo City Charter Revision Commission and a member of the city's Commission on Citizens' Rights and Community Relations. He also worked for many years at Erie Community College, retiring as an assistant vice president.

Mr. Jones received many honors and awards, including: the 100 Most Outstanding Buffalonians of the Century; Buffalonian of the Year, 1988; the Junior Chamber of Commerce's Man of the Year Buffalo; the Civil Liberties Award from the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; membership in the UB Athletic Hall of Fame; and the Urban League Family Life Award.

He was an active member of organizations such as the UB Student Association; AMVETS; Athlos Society; Bennett Wells Post 1780, American Legion; the Black History Foundation; the UB Council; and the UB Alumni Association. Mr. Jones lived most of his life in Buffalo, but in 2006, he and his wife of 61 years moved to Maryland to live with their daughter and her son-in-law. Mrs. Jones died later that year. In addition to their son, Dr. Jones, the Jones have another son, Johnaaron M. and a daughter, Carlita C.M.J. Perkins.

Mr. Jones entered the ministry late in life and became an associate minister at Bethel AME Church.

He is buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, NY.