William Augustus Jones Jr.
Jones was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to Mary Elisabeth Jones and the Dr. William Augustus Jones Sr. His life began as medical miracle, since he was not expected to be born alive because of a traumatic childbirth. Reflecting upon the story of his birth, Jones once said: "All of my days have been lived with the feeling that divine providence has upheld, sustained and directed my destiny."
He graduated with honors in sociology from the University of Kentucky, though he could not play basketball because blacks were then barred from the team. He went on to earn a doctorate from Crozer Theological Seminary. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1954 as a private and was discharged in 1956 as a first lieutenant.
He joined the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1961 to split from conservative Baptists and form the Progressive National Baptist Convention. He was known for his outspokenness, making controversial statements and being involved in controversial causes in the New York City area. In the 1960s, he was introduced to the preacher, Al Sharpton, by Pentecostal minister Bishop F. D. Washington. Jones became a mentor to Sharpton and eventually converted him to the Baptist denomination.
He had a 5,000-member church in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn and hosted a syndicated weekly radio program called Bethany Hour. In 1979, he published a book entitled God in the Ghetto.
- Martin, Douglas (8 February 2006). "The Rev. William A. Jones, Civil Rights Activist, Dies at 71". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-05-05.
- Interview with Al Sharpton, David Shankbone, Wikinews, December 3, 2007.
- William A. Jones Jr., God in the Ghetto. Elgin, Illinois: Progressive Baptist Publishing House, 1979.
- The life and ministry of the Reverend Doctor William Augustus Jones Jr. as recounted in part by Dr. Jones in his Spiritual Autobiography, 1972.