Judge Nathaniel Jones’s career was forged in the 1960s, as the first African American Assistant U.S. Attorney in Ohio, as Assistant General Counsel of the Kerner Commission, and, beginning in 1969, as General Counsel of the NAACP. In that role, Jones coordinated attacks against Northern school segregation—a vital, divisive, and poorly understood chapter in the movement for equality—twice arguing in the pivotal United States Supreme Court case,Bradley v. Milliken, which addressed metropolitan-wide school desegregation remedies in Detroit. Jones also led the national response to the attacks against affirmative action, spearheading and arguing many of the signal legal cases of that effort.
Answering the Call is the extraordinary memoir of an unsung hero of the battle for racial equality in America—a battle that, far from ending with the great victories of the Civil Rights era, saw some of its signal achievements in the desegregation fights of the 1970s, and its most notable setbacks in the affirmative action debates that continue into the present.
Answering the Call is memoir at its best, combining a uniquely personal perspective on crucial historical events, with an intimate glimpse inside both the movement for racial equality and the halls of power that it sought to transform. Judge Jones’s story is also an essential corrective to the idea of a post-racial America—his voice and his testimony offering enduring evidence of the unfinished work of ending Jim Crow’s legacy.