Friends, family and admirers gathered on Sunday afternoon for a free concert at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium to celebrate the life of Halifax civil rights activist Dr. Burnley “Rocky” Jones who died in July.

The memorial concert Sunday afternoon was hosted by Walter Borden with musical tributes by The Carson Downey Band, Asia & NuGruv, The McCready Brothers.

Borden called being asked to host a "special honour."

“Because Rocky and I go back 48 years. He played probably one of the greatest roles in shaping who I am, what I think,” he said.

“It’s just our way of having an afternoon chat with Rocky.”   

ns-rocky-jones-852

In his student days in the 1960s and '70s, Jones was viewed a radical, and monitored by Canadian police and by members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

He said there was no one quite like Jones.

“Well, to say he was unique, is to say it mildly. He was a very special individual, one who in the parlance of the day became a legend and he became a legend right in front of us," said Borden.

"He was bigger than life and he articulated what so many of us wanted to say and didn’t know how to say — and didn't even know if we should be say. So Rocky really was the primary guiding light for a couple of generations in this city.”

Borden said he could not underestimated the importance of Jones' effect of the sociopolitical landscape in Nova Scotia during a critical time for civil rights.

“He made us see what we could be and pointed us in the direction of where we should be going,” he said.  

There was also a special performance by acclaimed a cappella quartet Four the Moment. Formed in 1982, the group who travelled across Canada and abroad singing songs about the Canadian black experience and social justice. They retired in 2000.

Rocky Jones, a legend

Jones has been in the public eye for more than four decades as a social activist on matters of human rights, race and poverty.

He was 71.

In his student days in the 1960s and '70s, Jones was viewed a radical, and monitored by Canadian police and by members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

He had connections with the Black Panther Party, and was a founding member of the Black United Front in Nova Scotia. He played a leading role in creating an indigenous program for black and Mi'kmaq people at the Dalhousie Law School.

He and Joan Jones, his wife at the time, founded an inner city help program for people who were struggling with poverty.

In the early 1990s, he graduated from law school, and worked for legal aid until he founded his own law firm. It focused largely on human rights, criminal and prisoners' rights, and labour law .

Jones received many awards including the Order of Nova Scotia and an honorary doctorate of law from the University of Guelph.

The concert was free but donations were accepted for the Burnley (Rocky) Jones Education Fund.