- Jesse Hill Jr., a civil-rights leader and businessman who later became the first black president of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, died Monday. He was 86.
Hill had a close relationship with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and helped make sure his legacy would be remembered, according to Steve Klein, a spokesman for the King Center, where Hill served as chairman of the board of directors from 1979 to 1993.
"He was very instrumental in developing the growth of the King Center and really a giant in Atlanta civic affairs," Klein said. "I don't think you could think of a major civic project in Atlanta for the last 20 or 30 years that he wasn't involved in."
Hill was named the head of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, now called the Metro Atlanta Chamber, in 1978. Hill participated in several economic trade missions to Europe on behalf of the chamber, and accompanied President Jimmy Carter on a trade mission to Nigeria.
In 1960, Hill helped create the Atlanta Inquirer, the city's first newspaper for the African-American community. He served as publisher until 1985.