James Wormley Jones, born 1884 to a former slave at Fort Monroe, was a World War I conqueror and the first African American Agent to be hired at the FBI in November 1919.
One hundred years ago, Jones was sworn in as the first African American FBI Special Agent.
Jones’ experience as a World War I veteran and former detective for the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, who also worked as an instructor in explosives and bomb-making during his time in the Army earned his candidacy for undercover work.
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Due to terrorist bombings at the time, the General Intelligence Division (GID) was created and Jones’ capability and undercover work were invaluable in fighting domestic terrorism.
He began working at the GID of the Federal Bureau of Investigation under first FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.
Before joining the FBI, Jones left the force to serve in the U.S. Army during World War I where he received training as an officer and assigned as the captain of Company F of the 368th Infantry, 92nd Division in 1917.
Reportedly, his brother served under him as a lieutenant and being segregated African-American forces in the Army, they were sent to Europe to
Jones soon returned to D.C. after the war and was promoted as an FBI special agent.
“Among Jones’ prominent cases were the investigation of black nationalist Marcus Garvey, who was convicted of mail fraud in 1923, and the probe of the African Blood Brotherhood, a Harlem-based radical group that promoted a separate black state,” officials said.
Jones retired from the Bureau in April 1923 and joined the Pittsburgh Police Department as a detective. He died in December 1958 at the age of 74 but just like the efforts of many black folks that go unnoticed and acknowledged, Jone was only honoured after his death.
He paved the way for the many African-American special agents to follow in his footsteps. This December the Bureau celebrates the 100th anniversary of Jones’ appointment to the special agent and honours his position as a trailblazing pioneer who aided the agency to widen its mission’s scope.
The FBI honored James Wormley Jones and others as part of its 100-year history of African-American special agents’ service to the FBI and the United States through a coordinated campaign titled ‘Our History, Our Service’.
It is a year-long initiative to commemorate the 100-year history of African-American special agents’ service to the FBI.
According to the FBI, there is no known photo of Jones.