On June 24, 2014, Boston University School of Social Work Dean Emeritus Hubie Jones was honored by the Roxbury Multi-Service Center during its 50th anniversary gala. In commemoration of the occasion, WBUR’s Delores Handy profiled Jones and his continuous work in Boston.
Growing up in the South Bronx in New York City, Jones planned on becoming a teacher. However, that changed when the work of Kenneth Clark, one of Jones’ professors at City College of New York, was quoted in a U.S Supreme Court decision.
“For me this was powerful,” Jones said during his interview with Handy. “I saw an academic, I saw a scholar, using his scholarship to advance public policy and social change.”
In 1955, Jones came to Boston to study at the Boston University School of Social Work. On October 28, 1956, a date he has never forgotten, he attended a speech delivered by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“He walked up to the podium without a note, and out of his mouth came this extraordinary oratory that blew me away,” Jones told Handy. “It was a part of cementing my commitment to work for social justice and social change in America.”
Jones has been an agent for change in Boston for nearly 60 years. He has assisted in the formation and leadership of various organizations, including the Roxbury Multi-Service Center.
“You literally can’t scratch the surface of anything in this community that’s of any value and not find Hubie Jones was at the center of it,” said Michael Brown, co-founder of City Year.
In 1977, Jones became the dean of the Boston University School of Social Work. He inspired and shaped the School’s urban mission during his 16-year tenure. An annual symposium, The Hubie Jones Lecture in Urban Health, was also developed in his honor. The lecture series addresses vexing health issues in the urban context, featuring prominent national and international leaders at the intersection of health and social justice.
“Hubie’s whole career has been as an agent of social change and he may be one of the most prominent instruments of social change in Boston in the last 60 years,” Marjorie Arnos-Barron, communications consultant and political blogger, told Handy.
At 80-years-old, Jones continues to influence and define the social and civic landscape of Boston as a leader, bridge-builder, and advocate.
“I just want this city to be as inclusive and as great as it can be,” Jones said. “If we begin to get education right, if we begin to get the integration of services right, we can do what no other city probably can do. We have a chance to be spectacular. This is what I live for.”
Read Handy’s full story here.
Image: Jesse Costa/WBUR