James Hill, Jr. gave his expert financial advice to Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. then head of SCLC’s Operation Breadbasket in the 1960’s while working on his Master of Business Administration degree at the University of Chicago.
Mr. Hill continued his financial work for Rev. Jackson with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition until he passed on December 23, 2021.
Born on August 20, 1941, in Baltimore, Maryland to the late James Hill, Sr. and Joyce Lee Woodward Hill, Mr. Hill attended Baltimore public schools and graduated from the Dunbar High School. After graduating from Central State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting in 1964, he received his MBA in personnel administration and accounting in 1967 from the University of Chicago.
Having begun his career as a cost accountant for union Carbide in Niagara Falls, New York, Hill worked for Alexander Grant & Company as the firm’s first African American auditor in 1967.
He worked for the City of Chicago’s Economic Development Corporation as the deputy director from 1968 to 1970 while owning several car wash businesses.
Passionate about his education, in 1972 Hill passed the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam and founded his own accounting firm, Hill, Taylor, LLC, located in Chicago. He later merged his business and retired as a partner with Mitchell & Titus, LLP. Hill was not only a licensed CPA in Illinois but also in Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Hill’s roots grew deep with Rev. Jackson who often called upon him for financial management advice, and on one occasion, Hill sent his son, James, to assist Rev. Jackson and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition to review their accounting procedures.
As the Rainbow PUSH Coalition grew and its financial management became more complex, Rev. Jackson once again called upon Mr. Hill for his financial advice. In late 2012, Rev. Jackson asked Hill to chair the organization’s first Audit committee, a position he held until his death.
“Under Jim’s leadership, the Audit Committee improved the organization’s oversight over its financial management and improved the performance of the organization’s independent auditor,” said John E. Adams, CPA. Chief Financial Officer for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. “Besides his expertise, Hill enjoyed the full confidence of Rev. Jackson.
“We are going to have a tough time finding someone who also cared as much about the organization as Jim Hill. Not a month went by, where he did not meet with the Finance Department to see what we needed and how we were progressing in our assignments,” said Adams.
Just a few years ago, Rainbow PUSH bestowed an award on Mr. Hill for his tireless effort in helping the organization achieve the highest professional standards in its financial management and reporting.
Mr. Hill was the recipient of other awards including from the Association of International Certified Accountant, the Illinois CPA Society, the National Black Association of Accountants, and the National Black MBA Association as a founding member.
He was also a board member of various community and nonprofit organizations including the Illinois Institute of Technology, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, the Better Government Association, Citizen Information Service, the Chicago Commons Association, the Economic Club of Chicago, the Chicago Economic Advisory Committee and his beloved Rainbow PUSH Coalition.
Hill was a council member to the graduate business schools at the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois.
A memorial service was held 3 p.m., Saturday, January 22, 2022, at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition headquarters, 930 E. 50th St.,
Rev. Jackson gave remarks at Saturday’s memorial service along with John Adams, Dr. Alexander Gabin, Cedric Thurman, James Hill, IV, James Hill, III, and the eulogy will be given by Pastor Andrew Singleton.
Mr. Hills leaves to mourn his sons, James Hill, III, Dr. Brian Hill, Sr., his former wife, Sheree Franklin, Stepdaughter Brittany Hogan, and the mother of his children, Gloria Fields. He also leaves to mourn seven grandchildren, Chrisheena Hill, James Hill IV, Brian Hill, Jr., Jacqueline Hill, Lauren Hill, Ashley Dieudonne McDaniels, Matthew Dieudonne, three great-grandchildren, McKenzie Fizer, Christian Hill and Laurence Williams along with a host of relatives and friends.