News obit: Asheville activist Minnie Jones, a force against racism and poverty, dies

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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minnie_jones_asheville_2015Minnie Jones, a civil rights activist and a long-time advocate for affordable health care in Asheville, has died. Buncombe County Commissioner Ellen Frost announced via Facebook that Jones died Tuesday night.

Jones, who grew up in Spartanburg, S.C., teamed up with fellow activists Carlos Gomez and Polly Ross to open the Western North Carolina Community Health Services in 1993, a facility that met the government’s definition of a federally qualified health center to serve needy residents. They opened Kenilworth Wellness Center beside Kenilworth Presbyterian Church in 1994. In 1996, The Minnie Jones Family Health Center opened at Pisgah View Apartments. The facility moved five years ago to Biltmore Avenue and is known as Minnie Jones Health Center.

Jones integrated the Asheville Housing Authority by becoming the first black person to live at the formerly all-white Pisgah View public housing complex. Jones also helped in the founding of Pisgah Legal Services, a nonprofit law firm.

Jones was outspoken – sometimes even gruff – when dealing with elected officials and fighting for her causes. Her work earned her numerous awards, including the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina’s highest civilian honor, in 2010.

Two years ago, Mayor Terry Bellamy called Jones a “living legend” a she gave a key to the city and City Council approved a proclamation in her honor.

Minnie Jones oral history at UNCA/image.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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  1. ConcernedCitizen February 16, 2015

    When is Minnie Jones’ funeral? there has been no
    notice anywhere. anyone know?

  2. hauntedheadnc February 11, 2015

    Having the health center named after her is nowhere near enough. This exemplary citizen needs a suitable permanent memorial. She did so much to help those who have so little, and so many people are alive and healthy because of her efforts.


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