One of the giant pillars of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Edward D. Irons, who is frail in body but strong in mind and spirit, stood on the induction podium at the Atlanta Business League’s 8th Annul Men of Influence Reception and Induction Ceremony at the Hyatt Regency hotel and made the ultimate proclamation about his illustrious life.

The Dean Emeritus of the Clark Atlanta University School of Business said “I just want to say that God has blessed me to live 90 years. But I am not finished!” he said resolutely amid a rousing chorus of applause that cascaded from the back of the room and rippled toward the stage. “This is a distinct honor for me, particularly since I received a similar award from the National Urban League 35 years ago,” added the educator, banker and entrepreneur.

It was apropos and serendipitous that the Atlanta Business League would honor Civil Rights icons on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Bill that was initiated by President John F. Kennedy and ushered through Congress by his successor, President Lyndon B. Johnson, with Martin Luther King Jr. at the White House. Some of the people who were with, or worked in conjunction with King were there in the room that evening.


The legendary Irons’ induction into the Hall of Fame was preceded by the poignant procession of the 2014 “Men of Influence” honorees, who walked single file through a battalion of previous years’ “Men of Influence” honorees  before standing on stage to bask in the appreciation and admiration of their distinguished peers.

The evening was made possible by the ABL’s partnerships with the local business community, including Georgia Power, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Southwest Airlines, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and New York Life Insurance Company.


The evening had several climactic and powerful moments that enveloped the ballroom. World-renowned scholar, educator and author Dr. Asa G. Hilliard was bequeathed a posthumous honor for his indelible contribution to the world of education and devotion to civil rights. His wife, Patsy Jo Hilliard, accepted the award on his behalf.

“I think the most exciting thing for me,” she said as her granddaughter stood beside her on stage, “is that he is joining all the recipients over the years, and those tonight, who worked so hard to try to improve the quality of life for our people. I think they did an outstanding job. Thank you for honoring them.”


Dr. Lonnie C. King Jr., an author and founding member of the venerated Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, was also inducted into the MOI Hall of Fame. King was not able to accept the award in person, but he paid the ultimate honor to his wife whom he’d home-cared for during the past 10 years, as he was by her side when she passed away earlier in the day.

Here is the list of the 2014 Men of Influence:


The Atlanta Business League’s 2014 Men of Influence.

Mr. Maceo Brown

Mr. Sam Burston

Mr. Rick Caffey

The Hon. Braxton Cotton

The Hon. Andre Dickens

Mr. Forest Harper, Jr.

Mr. Erskine Hawkins

The Hon. Bruce Holmes

Mr. B Mitchell King

Dr. Christopher Mosley

Mr. Hubert Owens

Mr. C. Earl Peek

Mr. Dantes Rameau

Mr. Nathaniel Smith

Mr. Bill Taggart

Mr. John Turner

Mr. Melvin Williams

Dr. Robert Yancy

Mr. Joseph Young


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