Rev. Jones' daughter, Janet, left, and her mother, Vivian, stand
street sign honoring the late reverend
NEWBURGH – A portion of Washington Street in the City of Newburgh
was dedicated to the Reverend Frank E. Jones on Saturday. He left a legacy
of social activism in the city behind when he passed away in 2013.
Rev. Frank E. Jones Way will now be located between South Johnston and
Liberty Streets in its namesake’s honor. A ceremony was held at
the Heaven Bound Church of Deliverance before the new street was unveiled,
where local political figures and members of Rev. Jones’ family
spoke with high regard for the pastor who fought to change housing and
education in the city.
Former Mayor Nicholas Valentine recounted a time where he and Rev. Jones
took on a cleanup project in the area while Valentine was involved with
the local chamber of commerce.
“He showed up on a Saturday morning at 8 a.m. in jeans, a sweatshirt,
cap and gloves and said, ‘let’s go’,” said Valentine.
“He said, ‘if I can’t do it, why would anybody else
want to do it.’ He could cross all these lines and was willing to
work with anyone to get the job done.”
“Later on, I got involved in politics,” the former mayor went
on to say, “but I never forgot that it’s those simple things
you do on a Saturday morning that make a difference in the community.”
Rev. Jones’ can-do attitude paved the way for progress in the city.
The Varick Homes housing project was established in 1972 because of his
tireless efforts throughout the previous decade in organizing a housing
development fund, and the Head Start program that was sponsored via his
nonprofit organization, the Newburgh Community Action Committee, Inc.,
came about two years later. Both still exist today.
City Councilwoman Cindy Holmes presided over the ceremony preceding the
street unveiling, and marveled at the magnitude of the impact Rev. Jones’
efforts continue to have on the city.
“Rev. Jones is the legacy of the city,” she said. “When
I look at Head Start and the many people working there, I think of Rev.
Orange County Legislator Curlie Dillard presented a proclamation from
Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus to Rev. Jones’ widow, Vivian
Dr. Eugene Jones, the pastor for the church in which the ceremony was
held, offered kind words for the reverend with whom he shares the same
“It’s good to have the same name as someone that is being
remembered in our city,” he said. He referred to the deceased reverend
as a “giant” and a “genius.”
“He could go into any area and make it come alive, because it was
in his heart,” he continued.
Rev. Jones’ daughter, Janet, talked about how her father’s
legacy had a personal impact on her.
“When dad would come home from work, I would hear lots of stories
about many of his different programs,” she said. “He taught
me how to be a professional, and I learned from him how to grow as a professional
and how to keep programs growing.”
Rev. Jones arrived in the City of Newburgh from his home state of Alabama
at the height of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. He served his
community up until his death as pastor of the AME Zion Church on 109 Washington
Street. In 1965, he founded the local chapter of Community Action Committee,
Inc., and received several awards for his commitment to civil rights including
the NAACP Distinguished Service Award and the Key to the City of Newburgh.
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