Wednesday, January 30, 2013
city council reflects on the life of civil rights icon and business leader jesse
– Members of the Atlanta City Council today mourned the loss of retired
Atlanta Life Insurance Company CEO Jesse Hill, Jr. Hill passed away this
morning at the age of 86.
joined Atlanta Life Insurance Company in 1949 and was named president and CEO of
the company in 1973, serving as chairman until his retirement in 1995. In
1977, Hill became president of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, the first
African American to hold the position. He utilized his influence within
the business community to advance the cause of civil rights in Atlanta.
contributions to the city are numerous and profound. Hill led efforts to
fully integrate the University System of Georgia; increase African American
voter registration numbers; and to expand African American access to affordable
advised former Mayors Maynard Jackson and Andrew Young in capacities both
official and unofficial. He was integral in bringing the 1996 Centennial
Olympic Games to Atlanta.
was a founding director on the board of MARTA and the first African American to
serve on the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. The Atlanta
Inquirer newspaper owes its existence to his stewardship.
2001, the city of Atlanta renamed Butler Street between John Wesley Dobbs and
Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive to Jesse Hill, Jr. Drive in his honor.
of the Atlanta City Council released the following statements on the passing of
was deeply saddened at the news of Mr. Hill’s death. I am thankful for his
influence on the African-American civic and business communities. He will be
remembered as one of Atlanta’s greatest leaders. His legacy will live on
through entrepreneurs, civic and business professionals, not only here in our
city, but across the nation.” – Atlanta City Council President Ceasar C.
heart is heavy to learn of the passing of the great Mr. Jesse Hill, Jr. I
join the rest of the nation in mourning this pioneering leader. He was one
of the greatest leaders in Atlanta’s history. From the era of Mayor
Hartsfield to that of Mayor Reed, of the transformative leaders that made
Atlanta what it is today, Jesse Hill, Jr. was the greatest. We are
impoverished by his loss, but our spirits are inspired by his life’s
example.” – Michael Julian Bond, Post 1 At-Large
Hill, Jr. is going to be missed by many as one of the city’s outstanding
visionaries and leaders who has an important role in history as a activist for
civil rights. He paid his dues to so many important causes and for that we
are thankful. As we make decisions, we will always keep him as a reference point
of a positive example by which to lead.” –C.T. Martin, District 10
Hill was truly an iconic figure in Atlanta. As I went through some of the
notes between him and my family, I reflected on the tremendous work he did for
the Butler Street YMCA. He possessed a memory and mind on par with the
latest big data supercomputers. If you ever had a meeting with him, you
had better be prepared before, during, and after. He will be truly missed.
I am so appreciative of what he did not only for me personally, but for the
African American community, Atlanta as a whole, and in particular for the Butler
Street Y. My thoughts and prayers will remain with his family.” – Kwanza
Hall, District 2
feel lucky to have had the privilege to meet and talk with Mr. Jesse Hill Jr. on
several occasions. He was one of Atlanta’s great business and civic
leaders for a number of decades, whose passion for this city was second to none.
I am saddened by our city’s loss, as we owe Mr. Hill a great debt of gratitude
for his service.” – H. Lamar Willis, Post 3 At-Large
am deeply saddened by the passing of Mr. Hill. He truly loved this city
and passionately did all he could to make it a better place. His legacy of
dedication and service is an example for all to follow.” – Keisha Lance
Bottoms, District 11