Sunrise: March 27, 1950 – Sunset: March 17, 2006
A memorial service was held Monday, March 27, 2006 at St. Paul A.M.E. Zion in Detroit celebrating the life and work of Joseph James. A long-time activist in the Detroit community, he served on several committees and was a volunteer and board member with both Black Pride Society (formerly Detroit Black Gay Pride) and Men of Color. As a BPS board member, James served as Treasurer and was a mainstay with the Palmer Park Picnic committee for Hotter Than July! Every year James and Leon Smith took on the task of early morning set-up and logistics for the picnic which is attended by up to 10,000 people throughout the day.
James was born March 27, 1950 to his parents Jean (James) Moran and Warren C. James. James had a passion for travel and visited Africa, the Caribbean and places across the United States.
James was baptized at St. Paul A.M.E. Zion under Bishop William A. Hilliard (retired). As a young boy, James attended the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant. In 1974, along with his father Warren, stepmother Velma, and sister Kenya he rejoined the family church, St. Paul A.M.E. Zion. James was a part of several ministries at St. Paul for many years.
James graduated from Samuel C. Mumford High School in 1969. While at Mumford, James led a walkout to promote the awareness of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. That was the spark that fueled the passion, which he used to enhance the lives of people in Detroit. He received an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration and Accounting from Oakland Community College and was employed with General Motors for 25 years until health challenges caused his retirement.
Community service, political activism, social awareness and the betterment of African-Americans were causes into which he channeled his energies. He was very active in many organizations. Volunteerism was also a hallmark of his, from managing a political campaign to adopting a child every Christmas.
James was involved with numerous organizations and institutions including NAACP, State of Michigan Democratic Party, UAW, Charles H. Wright Museum, DBG Pride, Gentlemen of Wall Street, Project Survival, St. Paul A.M.E. Zion Church and the Keith Anthony Baker Memorial Foundation, Inc. He also worked on many political campaigns including those of Wendy Baxter, Craig Strong, Gil Hill, George Cushingberry Jr., Coleman A. Young, Senator John Kerry and presidents Carter and Clinton.
James is survived by his father Warren; mother Jean; brothers and sisters: Gary (Jan), Jeanette (Hayden), Joanne, Jeffrey (Charlotte) and his “Baby Sister” Kenya; aunts: Mary Branch, Mary Collins and Betty James; uncle: Nicholas James, Sr; 10 nieces and nephews; 11 great nieces and nephews; God-daughter Dominique; 14 first cousins and a host of other cousins, relatives and friends.
BPS will host a memorial for Joseph James during the month of April to pay tribute to his many years of service in the same gender loving (SGL) community.