Jesse Jill Jr., civil rights champion, is dead at 86


Obama attends a service at Ebenezer Baptist Church where Martin Luther King Jr. preached and launched his civil rights movement in Atlanta 20 January 2008.


Emmanuel Dunand

Civil rights advocate Jesse Hill Jr. has died, his wife said today, according to the Associated Press. He was 86. 

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Hill started the Atlanta Inquirer, the state's first African-American community newspaper, in 1960. The publication "became the voice of the civil rights movement in Atlanta," according to the International Civil Rights' Walk of Fame

He was a prominent figure at civil rights demonstrations in those years, helping raise funds for jailed protesters, said AP

Born in St. Louis, Hill was a business who worked extensively in various rights-related non-profits and political campaigns, including that of former US President Jimmy Carter, said the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Martin Luther King III described Hill as a man whose civil rights activity came out of a deep commitment to justice.

When King ran for political office in the 1980s, he had presumed Hill would support him without blinking an eye. But “I had to prove that I was serious about the position,” King told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Once I did, he was on board, but not before he saw I was serious.”

Hill leaves behind his wife, two daughters, and several grandchildren. The cause of his death was not immediately clear.