Sen. Doug Jones is a distinguished senior fellow with American Progress, focusing his work on issues of racial justice and equality, voting rights, and law enforcement reform.
A celebrated prosecutor who brought long-overdue justice to the victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, Sen. Jones has built his career on fighting impossible battles. In 2017, he shocked the political establishment by winning a special election to fill a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama—the first Democrat to do so in 25 years in the state. On Capitol Hill, he quickly built a reputation as a well-regarded and effective legislator, passing more than two dozen bipartisan bills into law in just three years. He also established the annual tradition of a bipartisan reading of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” in the Senate chamber and has been an outspoken Southern voice in support of racial justice and equity.
Sen. Jones has earned bipartisan praise from his fellow lawmakers as well as top awards from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Military Officers Association of America, the National Rural Health Association, and more. He also serves a contributor for CNN and is a fellow at the Institute of Politics and Public Service at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy.
His book, Bending Toward Justice: The Birmingham Church Bombing that Changed the Course of Civil Rights, provides a look behind the scenes of Jones’ landmark prosecution of two of the former Klansmen responsible for the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombings that took the lives of four Black girls.
Jones’ first job after graduating from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University was as staff counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary for Sen. Howell Heflin (D-AL). Following his stint in Washington, he served as an assistant U.S. attorney from 1980 to 1984. Sen. Jones left government service in 1984 and was in the private practice of law in Birmingham, Alabama, until President Bill Clinton nominated him to the position of U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. His nomination was confirmed by the Senate in November 1997, and he served as U.S. attorney until June 2001. It was while serving in that position that Sen. Jones successfully prosecuted 2 of the 4 men responsible for the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church—finally bringing full justice and closure nearly 40 years after the attack that killed four young girls. Along with taking on the Ku Klux Klan, he indicted domestic terrorist Eric Rudolph and prosecuted other criminals who sought to use fear, hatred, and violence to inhibit the rights of others.