J. Raymond Jones was born on November 19, 1899, in St. Thomas, Danish West Indies. He moved to Harlem, New York in 1917 and became involved with politics, serving as an election inspector in 1921.
His focus was on registering and organizing African American voters in Harlem. In 1961 Jones supported the election of Robert F. Wagner Jr. as mayor of New York City, and in 1963 he became a leader of the 21st Council District.
Jones served as a mentor to many younger black politicians who later became prominent in New York politics. This group became known as the “Harlem Clubhouse”. Known as “The Fox,” Jones was a leader of Harlem’s Carver Democratic Club. He challenged Tammany Hall leader Carmine DeSapio twice, succeeding in 1964 in becoming Tammany’s first black leader (he was also its last leader before it quietly disbanded in 1967). New York City Mayor David N. Dinkins said about Jones, “Without his counsel and guidance, Percy Sutton, Constance Baker Motley, Fritz Alexander, Charlie Rangel, Robert Weaver, and I might add, David N. Dinkins, would not have achieved as much. He was a true political pioneer and a deeply committed individual who dedicated his life to serving the people of New York.” He was living at the Greater Harlem Nursing Home.
He died on June 9, 1991, at the North General Hospital. He was 91 years old.