Though he was born in Mississippi, Sam Jones made his mark as a civil rights scion in his adopted hometown of Indianapolis, where he headed the Indianapolis Urban league from 1966 to 2002, retiring just a few months before his death in early 2003. Jones devoted himself to such issues as housing, health care, education and improving police and community relations. He also served on numerous boards and committees, including the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee, the Citizens Complaint Advisory Board and the Methodist Hospital Foundation.
National Urban League President and CEO Hugh B. Price called him “a giant in the civil rights movement and in his town. He was instrumental in the social and economic progress of African Americans in Indianapolis, and made pivotal contributions in the improvement of racial relations in that city.”
In his honor, Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson renamed the Airport Expressway the Sam Jones Expressway.