First Black woman to serve on Atlanta City Council passes away

Carolyn Long Banks, known as the first Black woman to serve on the Atlanta City Council, has passed away. Fellow council members Michael Julian Bond and Andrea L. Boone honored her legacy with a heartfelt public statement Wednesday evening.

Banks was a fourth-generation Atlantan who graduated from Henry McNeil Turner High School, moving on to Clark College before it combined with Atlanta University to become today's Clark Atlanta University. 

Carolyn Long Banks was part of the student movement at Clark Atlanta University.

Carolyn Long Banks was part of the student movement at Clark Atlanta University. (Supplied)

Banks also attended Georgia State University. She was one of the organizers of the Atlanta Student Movement.

In 1960, she participated in the Committee on Appeal for Human Rights. The acclaimed civil rights activist worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. By 1962, she was invited integrate the Magnolia Room at Rich's – a well-known establishment in one of the biggest department stores in the South. She eventually earned her spot as one of the first Black women to hold a management position there.

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Carolyn Long Banks  (Supplied)

Banks was a woman of community. She became a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. in 1959, and joined the Atlanta Alumnae Chapter in 1962. She spent her Sundays as an active member of St. Paul of the Cross Catholic Church. She even upheld a lifetime membership in the NAACP. History shows she led delegations to foreign countries, proving her legacy of leadership and service to be worldwide.

Carolyn Long Banks at a luncheon with then-President Bill Clinton.

Carolyn Long Banks at a luncheon with then-President Bill Clinton. (Supplied)

When former President Jimmy Carter was the governor of Georgia, he appointed her to the Commission of Women. Banks was present at the White House when former President Bill Clinton signed his first piece of legislation, the Family Medical leave Act.

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Carolyn Long Banks with other Atlanta city leaders (Supplied)

She continued to be a crucial part of history throughout her life. In 1980, Banks became the first Black woman to serve on the city council. She held that prestigious, barrier-breaking position until 1997.

Banks served during one of the darkest hours of the city, dealing with the Atlanta Child Murders. In recent years, she would be asked to join the memorial taskforce to remember the victims.

Carolyn Long Banks with Julian Bond discussing SNCC with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Supplied)

"She was like a surrogate mother to me all of my life and a tremendous mentor to me in my public career. Her children, April and James, are some of my oldest and dearest friends. Her soul will continue to shine brightly in the divine presence of God and her impact will live on in the hearts and minds of all those who were fortunate enough to know her," said council member Michael Bond.

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Carolyn Long Banks speaks with FOX 5's Aungelique Proctor in Feb. 2021. (FOX 5)

"Let us keep her family in our prayers as we all seek comfort and peace during this time of mourning," said Council member Andrea L. Boone.

Carolyn Long Banks was 82 years old.