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The Honorable C. Jack Ellis

Mayor C. Jack Ellis was born on January 6, 1946 in Macon, Georgia to William Claude Ellis and Willie Mae Glover. Ellis was one of thirteen children. Ellis attended public schools in Macon, Georgia and earned his B.A. degree at St. Leo College in St. Leo, Florida.

Ellis enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he served as a combat soldier and paratrooper in Vietnam in the 101st Airborne Division. He was awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, three Bronze Stars, the Army Commendation Medal for Heroism and the Purple Heart for wounds received in combat. Ellis worked with Reverend Jesse Jackson’s second presidential campaign in 1988, and then went to work for the Census Bureau in from 1988 to January of 1991, and managed a cable television system on St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. He also hosted a public access television show focusing on public and political affairs. In 1988, Ellis helped to manage Reverend Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign for the State of Georgia.

In 1999, Ellis was elected the 40th mayor of Macon, Georgia, becoming the first African American Mayor in the City’s 176-year history. He was then re-elected In 2003. During his tenure as Mayor, Ellis’s administration was responsible for approximately $1 million in loans to disadvantaged businesses. Under Ellis’s leadership, the City successfully won a federal Hope VI grant to improve public housing, in addition to other grants and federal aid. His administration constructed over 300 new affordable housing units and eliminated over 2000 sub-standard houses. Also, during Ellis’s administration, the City of Macon was designated as a city of excellence by the Georgia Municipal Association and awarded the City Livability Award by the
U.S. Conference of Mayors. First Lady Laura Bush designated Macon as a “Preserve American Community.” Ellis also created the C. Jack Ellis Youth Foundation which assisted underprivileged and special needs children in America, the Caribbean and Africa. After Ellis left office in 2007, he was appointed honorary consul for Uganda to promote the country in the southeastern United States. Three years later, Ellis announced that he would seek a third term as Mayor of Macon. In 2011, Ellis officially began his mayoral campaign.

Ellis has received many distinctions and honors, including being named one of the top leaders in the State of Georgia. As Mayor, Ellis served as vice president for the World Conference of Mayors for Tourism and Investment and chairman of the International Affairs Committee for the National Conference of Black Mayors. Ellis is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, the NAACP and a 32nd degree Mason and a Shriner. His is the father of five children, and lives in Atlanta Georgia.

Clarence Jack Ellis was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 22, 2011.

Accession Number

A2011.027

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/22/2011

Last Name

Ellis

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Jack

Occupation
Schools

Eugenia Hamilton Elementary School

Ballard Hudson High School

Saint Leo University

Michigan State University

Lansing Community College

Georgia Perimeter College

New Ballard Hudson Middle School

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

C.

Birth City, State, Country

Macon

HM ID

ELL03

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Any

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

No

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Favorite Quote

People Always Try To Give You A Six For A Nine.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Interview Description
Birth Date

1/6/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Broccoli

Short Description

Mayor The Honorable C. Jack Ellis (1946 - ) was elected the 40th Mayor of Macon, Georgia, becoming the first African American mayor in the City’s 176-year history.

Employment

United States Army

St. Croix Cable TV

United States Census Bureau

City Of Macon, Georgia

Chester Engineers

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable C. Jack Ellis' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis describes his father's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis describes his paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis describes his father's work ethic

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis talks about his father's siblings, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis talks about his father's siblings, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis remembers his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis talks about the origin of his name

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis lists his siblings, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis lists his siblings, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis recalls his first experience of racism

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis remembers his family's first farm

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis describes his childhood home

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis recalls his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis remembers his favorite elementary school teacher

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis recalls his influences at Ballad Hudson Junior High School in Macon, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis remembers Ballard Hudson Senior High School in Macon, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis remembers completing his high school diploma

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis remember segregation in Macon, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis recalls President John Fitzgerald Kennedy's assassination

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis talks about race relations in the U.S. Army and in Macon, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis recalls his decision to become a paratrooper

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis recalls his role in the Detroit riots of 1967

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis remembers serving in the Vietnam War

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis reflects upon his transition to civilian life

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis remembers becoming a U.S. Army recruiter

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis describes his three children

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis talks about the effects of Agent Orange

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis remembers developing an interest in politics

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis describes his experiences as a U.S. Army recruiter

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis remembers working at St. Croix Cable TV

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis recalls his role in Reverend Jesse L. Jackson's presidential campaign in 1988

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis recalls working for the U.S. Census Bureau

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis remembers his return to Macon, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis remembers his early political involvement in Macon, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis recalls his unsuccessful political campaigns

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis describes his mayoral campaign platform

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis recalls his efforts to improving relations between police and the community

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis recalls securing a Hope VI grant for the City of Macon, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis recalls establishing a sister city in Ghana

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis recalls the Safe School Initiative

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis recalls the election for his second term as mayor

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis describes the C. Jack Ellis Youth Foundation

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis describes partnerships with African leaders

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis reflects upon his second term as mayor

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis explains his solidarity with Hugo Chavez

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis describes the racism he faced as the mayor of Macon, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis talks about the discrimination against Muslim Americans

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis describes his campaign for a third mayoral term

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis describes the demographic changes in Macon, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis talks about his family

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable C. Jack Ellis narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

11$5

DATitle
The Honorable C. Jack Ellis remembers completing his high school diploma
The Honorable C. Jack Ellis recalls his role in the Detroit riots of 1967
Transcript
So this guy [R.J. Martin] never allowed me to come back to school [Ballard Hudson Senior High School, Macon, Georgia]. I joined the [U.S.] Army instead. Joined the Army, became a paratrooper and of course with, in mind of finishing high school. And let me tell you how small the world is and how good God is. I wound up being stationed in Paris, France, right outside of Paris. And I had, I was stationed at NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] headquarters. I was at, this time I'm--this is a year and a half, I'm almost nineteen years old. My commanding officer, captain of mine was a gentleman from Macon, Georgia named Arthur Rich, a white guy. Now the black man put me out of school, he was a black--Dr. Martin. And my father [William Ellis] worked at Mercer University [Macon, Georgia] and worked for his father, Dr. Rich, Arthur Rich, Sr. I'm in Arthur Rich, Jr.'s command in Paris. He came to--Arthur Rich, Sr. came to visit his son at Christmas of '64 [1964], '65 [1965], I can't recall. Had to be '64 [1964], Christmas of '64 [1964], came to visit his son and said that, "You know there's a--." My name happened to come up. I was from Macon. And he said, "Well his father works at Mercer University," where he was a professor of music and my father also did work at his house as a groundskeeper, took care of his lawn and all of this and he wanted to meet me. So they sent for me to go to the captain's house for dinner which I was a private first class. Private first class, we don't get invited to captains' houses for dinner as a rule. And I went and it was--wanted to introduce me to his father who knew my father. The next day or shortly thereafter when we were back to work, it was during the Christmas holidays and we were back to work, he looked at my file and said, "I notice that you didn't finish high school before you joined the Army." I said, "No, that's why I joined the Army." I gave him the story about how I wanted to finish high school and what had happened. And he says, "I will make a deal with you. If you can think you can finish in one year, I will arrange for you to go to the American overseas dependent school and you'll get a high school diploma." And that's how I finished high school. Finished high school there and started taking college courses at the University of Maryland overseas branch [University of Maryland University College]. And Arthur Rich, Jr. and I today are very good friends. He, when I ran for mayor the first time, my first check came from him. He's a retired colonel now living in Alexandria, Virginia, went on to be a real estate mogul.$And then shortly after, Charles de Gaulle, the former president, the late president of France decided he would withdraw from NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization], so, which meant that we had to leave all the military, all the U.S. military personnel had to leave France and I was transferred, transferred to Germany and this would have been in 1966. So I was transferred to a paratrooper outfit in Germany and had a great time in Europe. I, matter of fact I was having so much fun that I wanted to stay and I--this is '67 [1967]. The war in Vietnam [Vietnam War] was raging at that time. Now I know about the war, you know but I'm in Europe. The war is in Vietnam and now I'm a staff sergeant and I attempted to extend my stay in Europe for at least another two years. I had had a sports car. I was having fun running up and down the autobahns in Germany from Frankfurt [Frankfurt am Main, Germany] to Wiesbaden [Germany] where I was stationed. But when I requested this extension, not only did they deny it but they sent me orders telling me that I had been reassigned to Fort Campbell, Kentucky for further shipment to Vietnam. This would have been in the spring of 2007 [sic.] so I came back to the states and wound up in Fort Campbell and became a member of the one 'o--101st Airborne Division and started out training. And we were--what I remember about that period is that at that time Detroit [Michigan] was burning. Detroit had the big riots in Detroit in August of sixty (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Sixty-seven [1967].$$--August of '67 [1967]. So here I am in Fort Campbell training to go to Vietnam to fight the enemy, the Communist quote, unquote, enemy and we were diverted to Detroit to help put down an urban riot and, and to kill young boys and girls in the inner city of Detroit which didn't register well with me. And, but as a soldier you do what you're told. So we stayed there for a few weeks and when that was over, went back to Fort Campbell and got on a plane, went to--shipped out to Vietnam. And let me, now--$$Well you have to tell me more about the riot in Detroit.$$Yeah. Yeah.$$Okay, about, you know, how--what happened and how--$$Well what was happening if you recall, I don't know whether you remember this in this era. The Michigan National Guard [Michigan Army National Guard] had been called in to--the governor of Michigan [George W. Romney] had called the National Guard and I think Governor Romney [Mitt Romney], the guy that's running for president, I think his father was the governor of Michigan at that time. I know it was a Republican if I'm not mistaken. They had called the National Guard and the National Guard didn't deal softly if you will with the rioters. They were shooting to kill, you know. They had shoot to kill orders. Well that just kind of you know made things worse. So they called and they said, "Hey these guys are not trained to do this and they are really going to make things worth here--worse." So they pulled the National Guard back and they asked for the 101st Airborne Division to come in and help maintain order. And I recall I was a young staff sergeant, reconnaissance platoon sergeant training to go to Vietnam to do this and I remember a captain telling me to use a flamethrower to burn down a building where a couple--we had received a couple of sniper rounds, probably someone from--had a .22 caliber rifle and I refused the order. I refused to do it. I refused to do it because I thought it was overwhelming force that we would be using on maybe a seventeen, eighteen, a twenty year old black kid with a rifle, with a .22 caliber rifle. And he wanted me to use a flamethrower to just burn the building down and it was a two story building. There could have very well been on the top floor and I refused that order. And nothing ever became of it but I did refuse a direct order to do that and I told him it wasn't necessary. I thought we could cordon this area off and bring some sense to it without burning down an entire building.