John H. Calhoun Jr. was a businessman, community leader, civil rights activist, and political organizer. He dedicated much of his life to politics, business, community, and economic development. Calhoun was born on July 8, 1889, in Greenville, South Carolina. He began working at the age of twelve as an apprentice to a blacksmith. Calhoun was a lifetime student. He graduated from high school at Hampton Institute in Virginia, 1922 at the age of 23. Calhoun received a B.A. Degree from Morehouse College in 1937 at the age of 38 and received an M.B.A. from Atlanta University in 1968 at the age of 69.
In 1934, Calhoun moved to Atlanta and for the next thirty years became affectionately known by many in Atlanta as “Your Man in Community Action”. Calhoun’s civil rights work began as early as 1923 while working at the United States Veteran’s Hospital at Tuskegee as a bookkeeper resulting in many threats from the Klu Klux Klan. In 1949, he and several others formed the Atlanta Negro Voters Leagues and served with the Statewide Registration Committee. In 1956, he became president of the Atlanta Branch of the NAACP where he was arrested for refusing to release membership records. He set up a network of neighborhood organizations such as Economic Opportunity Atlanta in 1965, and later, Model Cities in 1974.
Calhoun was very passionate about politics and was an active member of the Republican Party. In 1974, he was elected to the Atlanta City Council where he presented a resolution to form the Neighborhood Planning Unit System. As a member, he introduced this same idea to the Atlanta Charter Commission and the Atlanta Regional Commission. Calhoun was also very passionate about his volunteer activities. He worked with the Butler Street YMCA for over fifty years, participated in civic affairs in the Grant Park area, was an active member of the Atlanta Business League, and served as a Trustee and Sunday School Superintendent of Big Bethel AME Church.
John Calhoun died May 6, 1988, of respiratory failure at his home in Atlanta, Georgia.
Story retrieved from Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library
Archives Research Center, January 25, 2023.
I was stunned to see so many community clinics and mental health facilities that have closed in metropolitan Atlanta since this printing.
Visit NPU Profile https://radar.auctr.edu/islandora/object/auc.109%3A0011.
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