Ed Jones

Going against the tide, refusing to bend on the politics of race

For all of the talk about race in American politics, Ed Jones has walked the walk. And at times, he has walked alone, courageously clinging to his convictions rather than conforming to conventional-meaning liberal-views about where a black man is supposed to stand. For years, Ed has served as a distinctive voice for black Americans who believe that the content of their characters truly is supposed to matter more than the color of their skin. To Ed, that belief is more than lip service; it is the basis of his conservatism.

Standing against the twin tides of white liberal guilt and black liberal conformism, Ed has refused to let members of any race or political persuasion tell him how to "behave" on the issues of the day. He has risen above the slurs of those who question his "authenticity" as a black politician, and he has endured the disdain of those who challenge his right to be a Republican.

This former county commissioner, state senator and longtime Republican Party activist from Colorado Springs, Colorado-a man who co-chaired President George H.W. Bush's 1992 re-election campaign in Colorado-has never bowed to those who insist he fall in line with the black community's self-anointed "leaders."

As a state legislator, Ed dared to challenge a public-education establishment that had long ago turned its back on children of color. He supported school vouchers, charter schools, and a host of other policies that redirected resources toward at-risk kids-and away from bureaucrats and unions.

Ed also unflinchingly has struck at the "third rail" of black politics-affirmative action-because he has always believed that race-based preferential treatment is no more justifiable today in advancing the interests of black people than they were in advancing the interests of whites-at blacks' expense-in the Old South a half century ago. That view was also the cornerstone of Ed's outspoken support for a civil-rights initiative barring affirmative action-type programs, which narrowly lost on Colorado's November 2008 ballot.

Ed Jones' longtime opposition to affirmative action stems from his belief that such programs not only are unfair to those who lose opportunities to them but, worse still, they are detrimental to those who supposedly benefit from them. As Ed once said, "My greatest concern about affirmative action is that it has taught generation after generation of young black people that they cannot succeed without a tilted playing field. It is a policy that cripples the people it is supposed to help."

Ed was born and raised in the segregated South of "whites only" drinking fountains and divided schools. Before there ever was a Barack Obama, Ed Jones knew the cruelty of racism in all its forms-what it was like to be excluded from politics, jobs, opportunities. Yet the experience of his early years in old Mississippi led him to a very different place in American politics from where a largely white, liberal establishment insists he is supposed to be.

Raised by a widowed schoolteacher who forever ingrained in her son the values of perseverance and personal responsibility, Ed Jones lives what he was taught. Ed believes skin color should be neither an obstacle nor a crutch, and he advocates for that belief far and wide-come what may. Ed sticks to his guns, calls it like it is and refuses to conform. His mother would have expected no less, and it is who he has been ever since childhood.

A stint in the Army lifted Ed out of small-town Mississippi and took him to Colorado, where he stayed after leaving the military in the early 1960s. A family man and prominent member of his community, Ed and his wife B.J. make their home in Colorado Springs.