Riots to Renaissance: The Jones Brothers

Ed Jones, the eldest of the Jones brothers

Ed Jones, the eldest of the Jones brothers. (Source: Chicago Defender Archive)

In 1946, the Jones brothers were at the top of the $25 million-a-year policy syndicate in Chicago. The three brothers, Edward, George, and McKissack (Mack), started out small, running a policy station from the back entrance of their "Jones Brothers Tailor Shop." Lead by brother Ed, the Jones trio turned a nickel game into a sophisticated business enterprise, which included the Jones Brothers Ben Franklin Store on 47th Street, the world's only black owned department store. The brothers made high level civic and social connections, but the glamorous and lavish lifestyle of the Jones boys couldn't be separated from the criminal activity that created it. Kidnappings, death threats, corrupt politics, violence, and jail time were also prominent in the brothers' lives.

Policy expert Nathan Thompson tells the family history of the Jones brothers: