Hubie Jones was born in New York City in 1933. He earned his BA degree from the City College of New York in 1955 and came to Boston to attend graduate school in social work at Boston University. It was during graduate school that Hubie attended a Ford Hall Forum speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and was inspired to make a life-long commitment to work for social justice.
Once Hubie received his masters degree in social work in 1957, he began to have an impact on the quality of life in the city, fighting for social justice, racial justice and the rights of poor people. After a stint at two social work positions, he became associate director and then executive director at Roxbury Multi-Service Center in 1967. While there, he noticed a pattern of children who were not in school. He led a formal investigation through a "blue ribbon" Task Force on Children Out of School, which published a scathing indictment of the Boston School Department for systematically excluding 10,000 children because they were disabled, retarded, had behavioral problems, did not speak English or were pregnant.
That report, The Way We Go to School: The Exclusion of Children in Boston, eventually led to the groundbreaking, first-in-the-nation enactments of two landmark laws in Massachusetts designed to include previously excluded populations of children: the special education law and the bi-lingual education law. The Task Force he chaired became known as the Massachusetts Advocacy Center, or MAC, (presently, Massachusetts Advocates for Children), of which he was board chair until 1980 and is currently board emeritus. It was the inspiration for the national Children's Defense Fund in Washington, D.C., whose founder and president, Marian Wright Edelman, was the director of the Harvard Center for Law and Education and saw up close the effective advocacy of Hubie Jones and MAC.
Hubie developed a particular style of very effective advocacy: uncompromising in its goals, thorough in its research, and tough in its methods, but always respectful and designed to bring out the best on both sides. Emerging from his commitment to social justice and his identity as an advocate came a man of many talents and sides: an institution builder, a mentor, a problem solver, a teacher, an administrator, a television commentator, an advocate. He is a rare individual of integrity, talent and humility who is known and admired by people from all segments of society: business, community, academia and government. He is also the husband of Dr. Katherine Butler Jones and father to eight grown children.
These are just some of the more than thirty organizations in which Hubie played a key role in their formation, rebuilding and leadership:
- Dean and Professor of the Boston University School of Social Work from 1977 to 1993 (where he is now Dean Emeritus).
- Board President of Roxbury Youthworks, Inc., an innovative work training and support service program for court adjudicated youth;
- Board President of the Roxbury Community College Foundation, which raises private funds to support the college's programs;
- Acting President of Roxbury Community College, where he was called to serve by the trustees at a time of organizational crisis, and quickly built new systems, successfully guided the College through reaccreditations, oversaw the acquisition and design of the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center, and participated in the selection of a permanent president;
- Director of the Community Fellows Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which brings minority activists from across the nation for a year of study and project development work;
- Chairman of Critical Friends, a network of educational reform advocates dedicated to radical reform of the Boston Public Schools;
- Trustee of the Foley, Hoag and Eliot Foundation;
Board member of City Year and the Conservation Law Foundation.
- Convener (Chair) of the Community Mobilization and Empowerment Program at the Urban League of Eastern Mass., which works to empower parents to support the education of their children.
- Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Urban Affairs at UMass Boston.
- Panelist on "Five on Five," a public affairs program on WCVB-TV, for over 20 years.
His two current projects reveal his maturity, creativity and unflagging energy to build organizations and bring people together. While at UMass-Boston, he developed a partnership with the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Menino and the University, which launched the City to City Program, taking Boston corporate, government and non-profit leaders to visit other cities in the US and abroad to learn how other cities' leaders solve problems, shape opportunities and make development projects happen. So far the City-to-City Program has visited Atlanta, Seattle, Belfast, Barcelona, San Francisco, San Jose, Chicago and Boston.
Four years ago, while attending a City Year National Convention in Chicago, Hubie heard the renowned Chicago Children's Choir sing. As he puts it, he was "blown away" by its diversity and extraordinary artistic excellence. Consequently, he founded the Boston Children's Chorus in 2002, determined to duplicate the Chicago Children's Choir's twin goals of teaching self-esteem to children through music and the arts, and of bringing diverse children together from different neighborhoods and ethnic groups in the city and surrounding suburbs. He has started the Boston Children's Chorus: assembled a board, hired staff, raised funds and started rehearsals in 2003 with 90 children. He is very clear that the Children's Chorus will be an instrument of social justice. It is fitting that the Children's Chorus premiere performance in Boston was at the same Jordan Hall where Hubie heard Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 48 years earlier.