In ‘King Of Kings,’ The History Of The Illinois State Lottery Is Traced Back To The Black Men Who Created ‘Policy’


Documentary; Illinois State Lottery; Edward Jones


Harriet Marin Jones had no idea her grandfather was a Chicago history maker. 

Growing up in Europe, Jones’ mother rarely spoke of her grandfather. She knew he was African American and an “amazing man,” she said. The stories ended there. 

A 17, Jones moved to Chicago for a year to study at Loyola University. She was living with her grandmother when classmate Nicholas Ford — who later became a Cook County Circuit Court judge — picked her up and learned her grandmother’s name was Lydia Jones. 

“He asked me if I was related to Edward Jones,” Jones said. “When I told him he was my grandfather, he asked if I knew my grandfather used to run the Policy business in Chicago, went to prison and was kidnapped. I had no idea. I started wondering what the whole story was. What had been kept hidden from us?”

That question continued to rejuvenize Jones on her 10-year journey to create “Kings of Kings: Chasing Edward Jones,” a documentary disclosing the untold story of Policy in Chicago and the Black men behind it. 

The illegal racket thrived as thousands of people paid small amounts of money — sometimes a penny — for a chance to hit the daily number drawn from a spinning cylinder to make big bucks. The Policy kings ruled the neighborhoods and wielded tremendous influence in Chicago.

The documentary premiered this week at the Chicago International Film Festival. Neighbors in Englewood can attend a free screening 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Hamilton Park Cultural Center, 513 W. 72nd St. Jones will host a Q&A session with attendees after the film. 


Atavia Reed




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