Jesse L. Miller, a former North Lawndale alderman and community activist who felt compelled to serve when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. marched the streets of Chicago, died on Nov. 19. He was 72.
Born in Vicksburg, Miss., in 1942, Mr. Miller relocated with his family to the West Side of Chicago when he was four, said Darleen Gail Moore-Miller, his wife and partner of about 20 years. Other than afour-year Army stint in Japan, he never lived anywhere else, she said.
Long before Mr. Miller became the 24th Ward’s committeeman and — briefly — its alderman, he was a West Side activist who worked to rebuild a community devastated by rioting after King’s 1968 slaying.
In the aftermath of the riots, three-fourths of the companies in the neighborhood moved and more than a quarter of the jobs in the area were lost.
Mr. Miller, a machinist at the Hall Printing Co. in his early adult life, made it his life’s work to turn that around.
He helped found the Lawndale Peoples Planning and Action Conference, and eventually became executive director of the organization.
“He got involved with Dr. King, and the rest is history,” Darleen Gail Moore-Miller said. “So many he took under his wing as a father figure.”
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