Billy McKinney (politician)

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For the basketball player, see Billy McKinney (basketball).
For other people named William McKinney, see William McKinney (disambiguation).

J.E. (Billy) McKinney (February 23, 1927 – July 15, 2010) was an American politician from the U.S. state of Georgia. Although McKinney served as a Democrat in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1983 until 2002, he also ran as an independent for Congress after that time. In 2008 he joined the Green Party and cast delegate votes for their Presidential nominee. McKinney was the father of former United States Representative from Georgia and Green party Presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney.

McKinney was born in Abbeville in Wilcox County, Georgia. He attended the Atlanta Public Schools and Clark College, and was a decorated veteran of the United States Army. He was credited with integrating the Atlanta Police Department and spearheading the efforts of the Afro-American Police League. A portion of Interstate 285 is known as the "James E. "Billy" McKinney Highway" between I-20 in northwest Atlanta and I-75 near Cumberland Mall.[1]

McKinney was known as a politician who did not shy away from controversy. In 1981, he acted as co-chairman of the campaign of Sidney Marcus for Mayor of Atlanta. Marcus was a prominent Jewish leader; his opponent was the well known African-American politician Andrew Young. McKinney's choice antagonized much of the African-American community in Atlanta.[2]

His daughter Cynthia McKinney had a long contentious relationship with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee,[2] and commentators such as Alexander Cockburn allege that money from out-of-state Jewish organizations (who were opposed to her stand on Middle East issues) was key in her election defeat. Cockburn also wrote that "Buckets of sewage were poured over McKinney's head in the Washington Post and the Atlanta Constitution".[3] In 2002, when asked about his daughter Cynthia McKinney using an old endorsement in her primary campaign, he explained that the endorsement would not matter because "Jews have bought everybody. Jews. J-E-W-S."[4] In that 2002 election, McKinney lost his seat in the Georgia House of Representatives, and his daughter lost her congressional seat.


Billy McKinney died on July 15, 2010 in his southwest Atlanta home after a long struggle with cancer at the age of 83. He was in hospice care. His wife Leola and friends were with him at the time of death.[5][6]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Nigut, Bill, "Deconstructing Cynthia McKinney,"[1] Jewish Times, November 5, 1999
  3. ^ Cockburn, Alexander, "The Attack on Cynthia McKinney,"[2] Counterpunch, August 21, 2002
  4. ^ "Foes Take Aim At McKinney In Surprise Georgia Race", By Jennifer Siegel, Jul 28, 2006 Jewish News, Jewish Newspapers -
  5. ^
  6. ^ Rhonda Cook; Ty Tagami (July 16, 2010). "Former state lawmaker Billy McKinney dies". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved 2010-07-16.