The Rev. William A. Jones, 71, a minister and civil rights activist who was the first head of the New York office of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, died Saturday at his Brooklyn home of complications from kidney disease.
Jones, who served as pastor of Brooklyn's Bethany Baptist Church for more than four decades, was a third-generation minister.
Born in Lexington, Ky., he graduated from the University of Kentucky where, despite being 6 feet 5, he was prevented from playing basketball because he was black.
He earned a degree from Crozer Theological Seminary and in 1975 a doctorate from what is now Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. He served as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Philadelphia before going to Bethany Baptist in 1962.
In the early 1960s, he joined the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in forming the Progressive National Baptist Convention, which now has more than 2.5 million members.