Jones' words come as more black artists are calling out the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for its lack of diversity in membership and honorees. Actress Jada Pinkett Smith and filmmaker Spike Lee have both said they won't attend this year's Oscars after all 20 nominations in the acting categories went to white performers. Academy members have defended the move, and CEO Dawn Hudson has spoken out, saying it's "almost at a point of crisis."
"I've been involved with Academy longer than I care to remember," said Jones, in Miami Beach to be honored by the National Association of Television Program Executives. "I was the first black board member. I hate 'first black,' because that means 'only.'"
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Jones does have a long history with the Oscars. He was named musical director and conductor of the Academy Awards ceremony in 1971 and, in 1995, he was the first African-American to receive the Academy's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. Jones wouldn't go so far as to comment on those who have already said they will boycott the Oscars, but he did note that he seemed to favor something more proactive.
"There are two ways to do it," he said. "You can boycott or you can fix it. It's frightening to see 90 percent white and 80 percent white male."
This article originally appeared in THR.com.