Local Man Met Martin Luther King

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

January 16, 2006

Richard Jones, Sr. had a long career with the Albemarle County Fire Department, but before that he was one of the only African-Americans in 1963 to run the front desk of at a hotel and that's where he met Martin Luther King.

At 16 years old, he grew-up in Charlottesville and worked the graveyard shift at a hotel. After work he went straight to High School. It was on one of these late night shifts that he met Dr. King.

"He said, 'Continue to get your education, stay out of trouble and hope you go to college,'" said Jones.

Jones didn't make it to college, but he was the first person in his family to graduate High School--while working. He remembers that night as one of the most special on the job.

"What was going though my mind when Dr. King came in? I couldn't believe it...I wish I was older and wiser to ask more questions," said Jones.

Dr. King continues to touch the lives of people who never even met him, like those involved in a candle light vigil in his honor.

"Kids are able now--and all of us indeed--to walk confidently and safely through the neighborhood and people came out of their houses to watch us and wish us well and that's very gratifying to see," said Brett Ferrell of Abundant Life Ministries who helped organize the vigil.

Organizers said it's important to celebrate these holidays to look back and remember the past

"I truly believe that if we do not know where we came from then we have no idea where we're going," said Eddie Howard on the MLK Committee for Abundant Life Ministries.

Dr. King's birthday was actually Sunday, but it's been celebrated the third Monday in January since it was observed as a holiday.

This holiday was first created under Ronald Reagan's Presidency.


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