Nov. 19, 1919

Credit: Wikipedia

Police officer and World War I hero James Wormley Jones was appointed as the first Black special agent for what was later named the FBI. 

Jones served as a captain in the 368th Infantry Regiment, 92nd Division, in command of Company F. One history book described his company’s fight on the Metz front in France: “When the awful bombardment died away, just as the gray streaks of early dawn pierced the night’s blackness, which was made grayer by a thick heavy fog, the Captain ordered a charge ‘over the top’ with fixed bayonets; through the treacherous fog and into no-man-knew-what or seemed to care. The first wave, or detachment, went over with a cheer — a triumphant cheer — and the second wave followed their comrades with a dash. It may, perhaps, be best to let these boys and officers tell with their own lips of the terrific, murderous shell, shrapnel, gas, and machine-gun fire which baptized them, only to make them the more hardened and intrepid warriors; of how they contended every inch; fought with marvelous valor, never for an instant faltering. 

“Trench after trench of the enemy was entered and conquered; dugout after dugout was successfully grenaded and made safe for the boys to follow; wires were cut and communicating trenches explored; machine-gun nests were raided and silenced, and still the boys fought their way on. Of course, as a natural sequence to such a daring raid, there were casualties, but the Black soldiers, heroes as they were, never flinched at death, and the wounded were too proud of their achievements even to murmur because of the pain they endured. Captain Jones and his men took over a mile of land and trenches which for four years had been held by the Germans.” 

Newspapers noted the successful raid, and Jones earned a promotion. When he returned from the war, he resumed his work for the Metropolitan Police in Washington, D.C., before the FBI hired him, utilizing his undercover work and expertise in explosives to fight domestic terrorism.

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The stories of investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell have helped put four Klansmen and a serial killer behind bars. His stories have also helped free two people from death row, exposed injustices and corruption, prompting investigations and reforms as well as the firings of boards and officials. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a longtime member of Investigative Reporters & Editors, and a winner of more than 30 other national awards, including a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grant. After working for three decades for the statewide Clarion-Ledger, Mitchell left in 2019 and founded the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.