The Honorable Richard A. Jones grew up a block from Garfield High School, attended Seattle University and the University of Washington, and served his state as a lawyer, prosecutor, and King County and Federal Judge. As part of the digital project People of the Central Area, he shared his experience growing up in the Central District, and how the neighborhood informed who he became and how he approaches life and work.
One of the gifts that the Central District gave was that it put me in an environment where I really learned how to deal with a lot of different cultures, a lot of different folks, a lot of different histories and backgrounds. The community I was raised in really looked like the rainbow coalition of life. Yet, my block was almost 100 percent African American. There was only one Jewish family around the corner from us.
In the larger neighborhood, there was a little bit of everything (race, ethnicity, religion…) in our community. That has helped me over the course of my life, as I learned that there are different cultures; that people respond differently and react differently. It’s helped me, not only in the different types of work I’ve done in the past, but it’s been an enormous benefit to me as a judge.
Speaking about what it is like to still live in the neighborhood, Judge Jones continues…
Usually you’re taking on assignments and projects, pursuing your own career or what you want to do in life. You are not trying to make history. You are not trying to be a leader. It’s just you see something that needs to be done so you go and do it. You see people that need help and you help them. (pause) Then, you see folks that grew up the same way you did and it’s a question of reaching back and lifting up. It’s not a question of saying, ‘I got mine; you get yours.’
That’s not what we learned in the Central District. We grew up as a family. (pause) We talk about it takes a village… It was truly a village. I mean, everyone in the block knew each other. (pause) Before my mom even got home, she knew everything we’d done that day because as she walked home, she’d heard about it before she got to the front door.