James Wormley Jones, First Black FBI Agent

First African-American FBI agent gets recognition 100 years after he was hired


The first African-American FBI special agent, who was hired 100 years ago, is finally getting recognition. There are no known photographs of James Wormley Jones, but there is a record of his hiring.

Inside FBI headquarters in Washington is an archive room filled with hundreds of thousands of documents and a lone application for the job of special agent. It was handwritten in 1919 by James Wormley Jones. Until now, the then-35-year-old has been a footnote in the bureau’s history, CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues reports.

“Most people don’t know who he is,” Pegues said.

That’s true. A hundred years ago, right? December of 1919 is when he started. He was the son of a slave, a Washington Metropolitan Police Officer, a WWI veteran,” said Andy Vale, an assistant director of the FBI.

According to the FBI, Jones was “employed exclusively in an undercover capacity … working directly under J. Edgar Hoover.” More black agents would follow Jones’ foosteps into the bureau and they too would work under cover in the black community.

Hoover would go on to become the longest tenured FBI director, and targeting influential black Americans would become a pattern. In the ’50s and ’60s, Hoover targeted Martin Luther King Jr. for extensive surveillance.

That history did not stop John Glover from becoming the second African-American graduate from the FBI’s training academy in Quantico, Virginia, in 1966.

“I had a class of — a new agents training class of 32 individuals. I was the only African American,” Glover said.

“We have to own it,” Morgan said. “And we have to ensure that it doesn’t repeat itself, and we have to have everyone in like mind on that as we move forward.”New FBI agents visit the Martin Luther King memorial in Washington, D.C. and study Hoover’s policies toward King. FBI officials said it provides a lesson on what happens when power is abused.





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