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In Memoriam Jesse Hill, Jr.

In Memoriam
Jesse Hill, Jr.
1926 – 2012

By Charles A. Black
Special Correspondent for The Atlanta Inquirer

From St. Louis to Atlanta, from Atlanta to the world, from the World to Eternity – Jesse Hill, Jr. has transitioned from a bright beacon of service and leadership on Earth to an eternal legend of collective regard for the legacy he leaves behind.

Few leave such large footprints on the sands of time, or whose fingerprints are found on so much of a community’s successes as those of Jesse Hill, Jr. Ask those touched by Atlanta Life Financial Group, or the Butler Street YMCA, the Atlanta Committee for Cooperative Action, or the Atlanta Student Movement, or the All-Citizens Voter Registration Committee, or Grady Hospital, or Economic Opportunity Atlanta, or Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, or MARTA, or Delta AirLines, or Airport Concessions International, or Big Bethel AME Church, or the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, or Big League Sports, or Fortune 500 Corporations, or every mayor since Hartsfield, every regional congressman since Charles Weltner, or every Black elected official anywhere near Atlanta, or President Jimmy Carter, or the King Center, or The Atlanta Inquirer (Add your entries here.). They will all attest to the invaluable leadership, insightfulness and pure service from Jesse Hill that was central to their success and progress.

Jesse might have been thought to be the Energizer Bunny because he never seemed to stop or tire. He was thought to be everywhere at the same time. Few realized that after making important contributions in a gathering that Jesse would whisper in a few ears, move to the back of the room, assume a spreadleg, folded-arms posture and like a genie mysteriously employ teleportation to appear somewhere else. But, like a firefly, his appearing and re-appearing was always signaled by an indelible flash of light. His leadership contributions were truly invaluable and ubiquitous.

But, the true measure of the man must include the heart and spirit that led him to reach out to numerous individuals and provide a much-needed hand up, with no expectation of recompense or public notice. Such was the legacy of Jesse Hill, Jr.

Atlanta, the state of Georgia, the United States and the world were all made better because Jesse Hill, Jr. passed our way. He will be lauded by the mighty and cherished by the masses whose lives he changed for the better forever. Such should be the comfort for his family and friends.

Last updated on July 20, 2020

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