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

Jesse Jill Jr., a prominent civil rights advocate, has died.

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/AFP/Getty Images)

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.