CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Hubert S. “Rabbit” Jones will present the talk “African American Life: A Personal Perspective” in the Archives and History Library at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston, on Thursday, July 23. The program is the second of the 2015 Block Speakers Series. The talk begins at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
Jones was born in Laing, W. Va., three miles above Kayford at the head of Cabin Creek. After graduating from Washington High School in London, W. Va., he joined the Air Force, where he spent his tour of duty in Hawaii. While there, he became a self-taught musician, playing upright bass in the band.
In 1956, Jones entered West Virginia State College to pursue a degree in business administration. He also came under the tutelage of Dr. Leon Thompson, head of the music department, who recruited him to play in the classical orchestra.
Jones’ love of music led him to play with many well-known musicians including The Drifters, Solomon Burke, Bill Doggett, Rashan “Roland” Kirk and Sony Turner, lead singer of The Platters. He also joined forces with MacDonald Cary Jr. and Warren Pope Sr. to open the first licensed black-owned nightclub and restaurant in West Virginia. He played in jam sessions with Tommy Corey, Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, Ray Charles and Amos Milburn at The Greenbrier; Edgewood, Berry Hills and Meadowbrook country clubs; Crazy Horse Cafe and Juke Box, among others.
Jones worked for the state tax department for several years and became its first black auditor in 1961. He later spent 25 years with C & P Telephone Company. The West Virginia Symphony’s Principal Bass Violin Chair was endowed with his name by Lyell Clay.
“The Block” was once considered the heart of Charleston’s black community. It comprised a 25-acre area bounded by Washington Street East, Capitol Street, Smith Street and Sentz Court.
For additional information about the Archives and History lecture series, contact the Archives and History Library at (304) 558-0230.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the division’s programs, events and sites, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.