Charles Reading Jones was born 9 November 1862, near Philadelphia. "He was educated in the public schools and business colleges of his native city. In 1880-90, he was a member of the saddlery hardware firm of Charles Jones & Sons; in 1890-93 was secretary and manager of the Frank Barcus & Jones manufacturing company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and in 1890-94 was manager of the John Wannamaker harness department. In 1892-97 was chairman of the Prohibition Party of Philadelphia, in 1897-1905 of the Prohibition Party of the United States. Since 1905 he has been president of the associate prohibition press and has contributed extensively to American literature. Since 1900 he has been president of the People Company, publishers of the People of Chicago, Illinois."
—Source: Herringshaw's Library of American Biography, Volume III, p.349
An article from the Whitesville (New York) News of 4 May 1904 says something about the character of Charles Jones:
Color Line in Olean:
Restaurant Keeper refused to Feed “The Black Knight” and His Party, Olean, May 1
"Rev. John H. Hector, colored, known as the Black Knight, had an unpleasant experience here yesterday, when he went into a restaurant and was refused dinner by the keeper. In his party were his wife and Madame Abbie W. Lyons, the former Fisk Jubilee singer, and C.R. Jones, white, the manager and chairman of the Prohibition Party in Pennsylvania. The party were on their way to Bradford for a public meeting.
" Mr. Benson, the owner of the restaurant, told the colored people that he did not feed colored people and asked them to leave. They did not go as fast as he thought they should and he pulled Jones from the table. At this the Black Knight arose and advancing towards the keeper of the restaurant sad: “Young man, I fought for your country before you were born and I will again.”
"Just then, the other members of his party laid hands on him, or there likely would have been a mix up. The Prohibitionist speaker afterwards said that it would do that young man a lot of good to have a colored man give him a thrashing. The party were on their way from Shingle House, Pa., where they were entertained at the home of the first people in town, to Bradford, where they conducted meetings Saturday and Sunday."
Rev. John Henry Hector was a minister, public speaker, and temperance activist. He was born in 1845, in Windsor, Canada and immigrated to the United States as a teenager. During the Civil War, 11th Regiment of the U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery Unit. After the war, he became a minister, and eventually made himself home in York, Pennsylvania. In the 1880’s, he began touring the United States, giving speeches on his experiences in the Civil War, and delivered lectures promoting temperance. He would eventually expand his speaking tours to include England and Ireland. He would spend his life preaching, lecturing, and promoting temperance, until his death in 1914.
Rev. Hector was one of many African Americans in 19th and early 20th centuries that supported and campaigned for temperance and prohibition. The Prohibition Party was founded by moral reform activists, many of whom had been former abolitionists, and the continued forward with advocating for the civil rights and legal equality of African Americans. For instance, the 1888 platform of the Prohibition Party declared, “That we hold that men are born free and equal, and should be made secure in all their civil and political rights.” In 1895, the Prohibition Party nominated Anna Woodbey, the first African American Woman candidate for office in the United States, for the Nebraska University Board of Regents. Given this context, it’s unsurprising that Rev. Hector was C.R. Jones (the chairman of the Pennsylvania Prohibition Party at the time), were hanging out with each other before a temperance meeting. Given the proximity of Olean, N.Y. to Bradford, P.A., they had ended up stopping in Olean. In this incident, we see that Rev. Hector and his associates were conducting lives and activism, when they where faced with discrimination and mistreatment due to racial prejudice. Rev. Hector, C.R. Jones, and their associates stood for temperance and equality.
While Benson’s actions demonstrated an instance of the racial prejudice and discrimination which plagued the United States at the time, our society has progressed in various ways since this time, though there still are problems to address and progress to be made. The alcohol industry profits off the systemic poisoning and killing of people. While racism doesn’t hold the same institutional power it once had, elements of prejudice and inequality still interfere with the ability of all Americans to live as equals in a spirit of universal humanity. It will take the continued efforts of those who stand for progress to help move our society to a more moral, just, equal state.
"1888 Prohibition Party Platform", Partisan Prohibition Historical Society, Prohibitionists.org, Accessed February 26, 2019. http://www.prohibitionists.org/Background/Party_Platform/party_platform.html
“Anna Woodbey”. New York Prohibitionist. (New York). February 2018. https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/2cc7be_d29d627650ae411fad14621888223af2.pdf
“Color Line in Olean: Restaurant Keeper refused to Feed “The Black Knight” and His Party”. Whitesville News. (Whitesville, New York). May 4, 1904. Accessed, February 26, 2019.
"Rev John Henry Hector." African Stories in Hull & East Yorkshire. Accessed February 26, 2019. https://www.africansinyorkshireproject.com/rev-john-henry-hector.html.
Stephan Smith, “Civil War veteran Rev. John H. Hector”. York Daily Herald. March 3, 2016. https://www.ydr.com/story/news/history/blogs/yorkspast/2016/03/03/civil-war-revhector/81255990/
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always
-- Jonathan Makeley, writing in the New York Prohibitionist, v.2, No. 2