Prestigious Black Family Receives A Historic Marker In Front Of A Virginia Cemetery

Dr. Joseph Endom Jones, Rosa Kinckle Jones, and their youngest son, Eugene Kinckle Jones, co-founder of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., are honored with a historical marker at Evergreen Cemetery for their contributions to Richmond, Virginia.

NBC12 reported that community leaders and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity members gathered on May 20 for a dedication ceremony to celebrate the Jones family. The marker stands at the entrance to Evergreen Cemetery and presents an engraving with a summary of the history of the Jones family. “Dr. Joseph Endom Jones and Rosa Kinckle Jones, prominent educators in post-Emancipation Richmond, are buried here,” the marker reads.

Joseph was born enslaved to a blind mother in Lynchburg. He received his early education from another enslaved African before learning from a Confederate soldier. He taught at Virginia Union University and was among the first African American men to earn a college education and a doctoral degree. He served as pastor for Bethesda Baptist Church in Petersburg, installing more Black clergymen than any other pastor in the U.S.

Rosa, a nationally recognized music teacher at Hartshorn Memorial College, was among the first Black women to graduate from Howard University. According to Black Women at BU and Boston, the couple held a rare status in 1882, being Black, college-educated teachers who were married and missioned to help educate Black people.

Eugene was acknowledged during the ceremony for his contributions as the longest-standing national secretary for the National Urban League and his position as one of the seven founders or “jewels” of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. According to the Richmond-Times Dispatch, Alpha members placed seven yellow roses on the ground at the ceremony in acknowledgment of each founder of the fraternity, which was established in 1906 at Cornell University as the oldest intercollegiate Greek letter organization for African American men.

“These two individuals not only impacted us through the birth of their youngest son, but they impacted individuals during that time period, post-Emancipation — educating slaves, newly freed individuals, and a whole host of other items that have gone unnoticed. So it is my hope that with today’s dedication, there will be a correcting of history, in that these individuals are long overdue for that level of recognition,” Alpha Phi Alpha member Tyler Parker said.

“Their legacy is not in the words in their papers. It’s in the ripple effect of all that they have done,” said archivist Jessi Bennett, who assisted in the research for the Jones family’s marker.