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35. 1960s: Merle McCurdy & Nate Jones

@ Kent State University


Merle McCurdy (left) and Nathaniel “Nate” R. Jones (right) shaking hands. In 1962, Merle hired Nathaniel “Nate” R. Jones, the first African American as Assistant U.S. Attorney. Initially, Merle felt uncomfortable appointing a member of his own race to this position. However, Robert F. Kennedy made it clear that the appointment of highly qualified minorities in these positions was exactly the reasons for Merle’s appointment in the first place. When Merle was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to serve as General Counsel to National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (commonly known as the “Kerner Commission”) in 1967, Nate would join his team as Assistant General Counsel. Created in response to the racial violence that in America’s urban centers during the 1960’s, including Cleveland's Hough neighborhood, the Commission investigated and reported on the cause of violence. While persons like J. Edgar Hoover blamed these riots of “communist sympathizers”, the Kerner Commission’s report came to a different conclusion. Distributed in March of 1968, the report determined that the cause of the rioting was from poverty that existed in the inner-city, a concern as relevant today as it was fifty years ago. Nate Jones would go on to become General Counsel for the NAACP, and, later, was appointed Judge to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Sources Jones, N., by Dana, R. (Personal Communication, December 4, 2015). Fisher, A. (2018, July 30). Nate Jones & Lyndon B. Johnson Administration. National Archives, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

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Kent State University

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Ohio Digital Network