January 24, 2020
 
TO JOSEPHINE, ERIC’S BELOVED WIFE, HIS SONS PAUL AND ERIC, JR., AND DAUGHTER, LISA AND HIS GRANDCHILDREN.
 
ERIC’S SNCC FAMILY OFFERS ITS DEEPEST SYMPATHY.  ERIC’S DEDICATION TO BOTH HIS FAMILIES AND TO HIS COMMUNITY IS SHARPLY ETCHED IN OUR THOUGHTS.  TO SAY HE WILL BE GREATLY MISSED IS TO STATE THE OBVIOUS.
 
ERIC PAUL JONES WAS BORN ON OCTOBER 3, 1943 INTO AN AMERICA, TO QUOTE A RULING OF THE U.S. SUPREME COURT, WHERE “A BLACK MAN OR WOMAN HAD NO RIGHTS THAT A WHITE MAN NEED RESPECT.”  AS WE SIT HERE TODAY, BECAUSE OF ERIC’S COURAGE, THE DETERMINATION OF THE 1960S MOVEMENT VETERANS AND THE SUPPORT OF THE BLACK COMMUNITY, ERIC’S CHILDREN, AS WELL AS, ALL CHILDREN IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY WILL NOT BE ARRESTED FOR USING THE WRONG BATHROOM; SITTING DOWN FOR A MEAL IN A RESTAURANT; SITTING IN THE FRONT SECTION OF A BUS; TRYING TO ATTEND AN ALL-WHITE COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY; OR TRYING TO REGISTER TO VOTE.
 
THE SACRIFICES THAT ERIC AND HIS BAND OF BROTHERS AND SISTERS MADE, ALLOWS ALL OF OUR CHILDREN AND GRAND-CHILDREN TO DREAM BEYOND THE NARROW CONFINES OF WHAT WAS PRESCRIBED FOR HIM AT HIS BIRTH IN 1943. 
 
ERIC WAS A MEMBER OF THE NON-VIOLENT ACTION GROUP, AFFECTIONATELY CALLED NAG.  NAG WAS A COLLEGE CAMPUS CHAPTER OF THE STUDENT NON-VIOLENT COORDINATING COMMITTEE (SNCC) THAT WAS COMPOSED OF HOWARD UNIVERSITY, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY, AND A FEW HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS. 
 
IN THE 1960’S, HE CHALLENGED THE SYSTEM OF SEGREGATION AND DISCRIMINATION IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA THAT DID NOT ALLOW BLACK PEOPLE TO WORK AS BUS DRIVERS, DID NOT ALLOW BLACK POLICEMEN TO RIDE IN POLICE CARS, AND DID NOT ALLOW BLACK PEOPLE TO TRY ON CLOTHES IN THE DOWNTOWN DEPARTMENT STORES.  BLACK MEN AND WOMEN FACED SEGREGATION IN HOUSING AND LIVED IN A CITY WHERE THE SOUTHERN SEGREGATIONIST CONGRESSMEN HELD POLITICAL POWER.
 
ERIC WAS BOTH A FIERCE WARRIOR AND A GOOD FRIEND.  HE HAD A 3RD FLOOR WALK-UP APARTMENT ON FLORIDA AVE, BETWEEN 18TH AND 19TH STREETS NW, AND ERIC ALWAYS WELCOMED ME TO STAY THERE ON MY TRIPS IN AND OUT OF WASHINGTON.  ONCE WHILE CRASHING AT HIS APARTMENT, I WAS READING A NOVEL WHERE THE HERO OF THE STORY WAS NAMED ERIC “HEAVEN SENT” JONES.  FROM THEN ON, I STARTED REFERRING TO ERIC AS “HEAVEN SENT” AND HE TOOK THE NICKNAME IN GOOD STRIDE.  I WAS ALWAYS GRATEFUL FOR HAVING A PLACE TO STAY, AND ERIC’S GENEROSITY WAS TRULY HEAVEN SENT.
 
IN MY MIND’S EYE, I ALWAYS SAW ERIC AND JOSEPHINE TOGETHER.  ERIC LOVED AND COULD TELL A GOOD STORY AND ALWAYS APPRECIATED A GOOD JOKE.  HIS RESPONSE WAS ALWAYS HEARTY LAUGHTER WHILE JOSEPHINE WOULD HAVE A GENTLE AND WARM SMILE.  I GUESS THE REASON I ALWAYS THOUGHT OF THEM TOGETHER IS THAT THEY’VE BEEN MARRIED FOR 51 YEARS.
 
IN THE LATE 1970S AND EARLY 1980S, SNCC VETERANS BECAME THE POLITICAL LEADERSHIP OF WASHINGTON.  ERIC WAS ON THE STAFF OF JOHN WILSON, THE CHAIRMAN OF THE CITY COUNCIL.   MARION BARRY BECAME MAYOR.  SEVERAL SNCC VETERANS, INCLUDING MYSELF, BECAME PART OF THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF THE DISTRICT GOVERNMENT.
 
WITH SNCC VETERANS IN THE LEADERSHIP OF BOTH THE LEGISLATIVE AND EXECUTIVE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT, MANY THINGS WERE ACCOMPLISHED TO HELP THE CITIZENS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.  THE SUMMER YOUTH PROGRAM WAS FOUNDED, MINORITY BUSINESS PROGRAM WAS ESTABLISHED, OPPORTUNITIES WERE OPENED FOR YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MAJOR WHITE LAW AND ACCOUNTING FIRMS IN WASHINGTON, DC, SENIOR CITIZENS PROGRAMS WERE GREATLY ENHANCED, AND THE DISTRICT GOVERNMENT BECAME A MUCH MORE PROFESSIONAL OPERATION.
 
WHEN ASKED ABOUT HIS HIGHEST ACHIEVEMENT IN LIFE, MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. SAID, “TELL THEM I TRIED TO HELP SOMEBODY ALONG THE WAY,”.  AS I THINK ABOUT ERIC, WHAT COMES TO MIND IS THAT, LIKE MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., ERIC DID TRY TO HELP MANY ALONG THE WAY, AND WE’RE ALL GRATEFUL FOR THE CONTRIBUTIONS HE MADE TO IMPROVE THE LIVES OF EACH OF US.
ERIC, MY BROTHER, WE WILL MISS YOU!