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102-year-old WWII veteran and Civil Rights attorney from Baton Rouge passed away Saturday

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BATON ROUGE - A national hero from Louisiana, Johnnie Jones, passed away Saturday. He was 102. 

The pastor and congregation of Mount Zion First Baptist Church remembered the Civil Rights attorney and war hero Sunday. 

"I was in disbelief because I had just read a note from him," Mount Zion Rev. Rene Brown said. "For him to take what he learned in the law and then use that to make things better for his people, I can't imagine how blessed he was."

In 1953, the then Mount Zion pastor T. J. Jemison hired Jones, a graduate of Southern Law school to work during the Baton Rouge bus boycotts. 

"I'm just out law school and I'm not qualified to handle a case of that magnitude," Jones said during a previous interview. 

But he did, and went on to inspire Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to organize the Montgomery bus boycotts. 

Jones also worked to integrate lunch counters in Baton Rouge before the tactic was popular. 

"The issues at the lunch counters, that's unreal. For him to coach people and tell them how we're going to respond," Rev. Brown said. 

Jones was awarded the Purple Heart in June 2021 after fighting through several injuries in the D-Day invasion. 

"We should all pay tribute to Johnnie Jones. He stormed the beach at Normandy to free the world of Nazi oppression. He worked in the United States to make the words of the Declaration of Independence and the constitution live for all Americans. We are--whoever you are--a better person, society, state, nation, world because of Johnnie Jones," Senator Bill Cassidy said at the pinning ceremony. 

"I know that I'm where I'm at home, getting these praises, and I will continue to be everything that I can to inspire others to follow my footsteps," Jones said.

Jones' funeral is set for Monday, May 2 at Mount Zion First Baptist Church on T. J. Jemison Boulevard. It will begin at 9 a.m. with visitations.

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