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Rhett S. Jones '72 AM, '76 PhD, of Cranston, R.I.; July 30. He joined the Brown faculty in 1969 as an associate professor of history and Afro-American studies; at the time of his death he was professor emeritus of Africana studies and history. His academic specialties included African American history before 1800, African American theater, Caribbean history before 1840, and race relations in colonial America. Soon after arriving at Brown he cofounded and became research director of Rites and Reason Theatre.

obits.jones.jpg
Hugh Smysner/Brown Archives

In 1972, he helped organize the Sankore Society, the University's organization of black faculty, administrators, and personnel. He served as chairman of the Transitional Summer Program Review Committee in 1975 (a precursor to the Third World Transition Program), and from 1976 to 1978 he participated in the first minority review committee to aid the Admission Office in decisions regarding minority applicants. In 1991 he was appointed director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America.

His work extended into the black community of Rhode Island, where he served on several boards and committees, such as the Black Studies Consortium of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Black Task Force on Higher Education, the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, and the state chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. His professional memberships included the American Association of University Professors, the American Historical Association, and the American Sociological Association. He wrote several publications and received numerous awards from societies, museums, universities, and magazines. He is survived by two daughters, three grandsons, a brother, and several aunts and cousins. Former students and colleagues can post tributes at brownalumnimagazine.com.

 

 

 





Comments (7)
11/14/08
 
Of all the great teachers I had at Brown, I considered Rhett Jones to be the best. His sociological approach to the study of history bridged the past to the present. Long after I left Brown I often found myself analyzing human events by the methods that Professor Jones taught.
 
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12/02/08
 
I last spoke with Rhett several years ago after his mother passed. I remember telling him that in spite of death, he would always be, as his Mom nicknamed him, her "Huggy Bear". 
 
I trust the Creator has embraced Rhett, as his Mom can now fully do so again, in love and light. 
 
Goodbye, dear friend and scholar.
 
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12/02/08
 
Although I never took a class with Dr. Jones, I remember him being very highly regarded. This is a great loss for all of us, and I send my condolences to family, friends and loved ones who are remembering him at this time.
 
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12/07/08
 
Rhett Jones was a remarkable teacher. I took four classes with him, and he advised my thesis. While that academic guidance was profound, his caring and open personality are what truly stood out. He helped make Brown a welcoming and invigorating place and was a primary reason I missed the place immediately upon leaving. He is missed.
 
Scott Bowman, '99
03/22/09
 
Professor Jones could both challenge and comfort, facilitate great open discussion and correct the historical record. By far, one of my best professors and teachers. Thank you to his family and friends for sharing him with all of us.
 
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02/11/15
 
Professor Jones fondly known simply as Rhett was my first teacher and mentor of African American history well before I ever enrolled at Brown. I consider him a friend, confidant, and long term colleague. I will before ever grateful and blessed to have had him in my life and to be thankful for his spirit and pedagogical influence over my intellectual development. May the heavens shine upon you my dear brother.
 
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11/03/16
 
Rhett Jones was a fantastic teacher. He taught a course at Milton called 
Social Problems. He opened my eyes wide. He was teaching in Milton when Martin Luther King was assassinated.  
I wrote a term paper for him that he liked very much. 
I am broken hearted that he is no longer with us. I'll remember him for as long as I live. 
I may be visiting Brown late this month. November. Maybe I could speak to some people who knew Rhett Jones well. That would be very exciting for me.
 
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