A. Reginald Eaves, 1934-2015, !Presente! (UPDATE 1)


reginald eaves(APN) ATLANTA — Former Fulton County Commissioner A. Reginald Eaves, 81, has passed away.  He was an activist, an elected official, and a journalist for People TV.


Mr. Eaves served as Fulton County Commissioner from 1979 to 1987, and was the first Black person to serve as Public Safety Commissioner for the City of Atlanta, from 1974 to 1978.


He was the first Black person to serve as Public Service Commissioner in the U.S.


Eaves was also a progressive activist, and, according to Atlanta Progressive News’s archives, participated in civil disobedience actions even in his late seventies.


In 2009, he protested at a Wells Fargo Bank in East Point related to apparent predatory lending and lack of mortgage refinancing pursuant to federal programs.  He was arrested for criminal trespassing after refusing to leave without a meeting with the bank’s President, John Stumpf.


The charges were dismissed after he and four other activists agreed to perform twenty community service hours to an organization of their choice.


“I’m sick and tired of foreclosures, and the people can’t afford it.  We wanted to get them to talk to us about foreclosure practices.  We want them to modify their procedures and take into consideration the people,” Eaves told Atlanta Progressive News at the time.




In 1981, he ran for Mayor of Atlanta.  And in 2009, he ran for the Atlanta City Council District 11 seat, in a crowded race.


He also served as Board Chairman for Economic Opportunity Atlanta (EOA), the community action authority for Atlanta, that was a predecessor to Fulton Atlanta Community Action Authority (FACAA), according to Joyce Dorsey, FACAA CEO.


Eaves also apparently made a few mistakes during his time as Fulton County Commissioner.  In 1988, a federal grand jury found him guilty of three counts of extorting cash from developers seeking zoning changes and from a Federal Bureau of Investigations agent posing as a developer, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


He was sentenced to six years in prison and five years probation, but ultimately served less than two years in prison, according to the AJC.


Julie Brown, a friend of Eaves, who volunteered for his 2009 Council campaign, objected to inclusion of this information in this article, noting that he “paid his debt to society.”  APN included the information as a matter of historical importance and public record.  Moreover, the fact that his progressive work continued on decades after the conviction, and despite the conviction, speaks for itself.


“He was one of the greatest, kindest, caring individuals you would have ever met.  Even in life after politics, he still stood on the side of the least of these,” Brown said.


“He was Chair of the [Georgia Coalition for the] People’s Agenda Public Safety Committee, and a member of the Concerned Black Clergy, still fighting for the people,” Brown said.


“Up until his stroke last November [2014], his main passion… he was happy there was a hung jury for Burrell Ellis,” the former CEO of DeKalb County, Brown said.


“We were co-hosts of the Hot Seat.  We hosted that show for about two years, a political forum that was just an open mike political forum format where we had call-ins, we talked about hot issues facing the City, the County, or the State.  It was just like the Georgia Gang, but we just weren’t wealthy,” former Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education Member Mitzi Bickers told APN.


“It was a great fun.  It was well-watched, we had a lot of viewers in the City of Atlanta and South DeKalb.  It was a nice forum, it was quite informative.  We would always give candidates the same amount of time, we didn’t do endorsements,” Bickers said.


“Metropolitan Atlanta is a much better place because of him, he contributed so much for the families of the city.  People loved him, people respected his commitment to the community, to growth and development particularly in the African American community,” Bickers said.


“A. Reginald Eaves had one of the best political minds of any person I met in Atlanta… he was honest and sincere and really committed to progressive ideas,” Dwanda Farmer, an Atlanta activist currently living in Baltimore, Maryland, said.


“I had the opportunity to work with him on a daily basis.  Him and Maynard Eaton both worked at the Atlanta Voice newspaper in 1999.  I started working with Janis Ware, SUMMECH, in the same building,” Farmer said.


“I think he, over all the people in Atlanta, appreciated my forthright outspoken manner and he encouraged that from me,” Farmer said.


“There’s a bunch of fake people in Atlanta–politicians who act like they’re down for the community and they’re really out for themselves–and he wasn’t one of them,” Farmer said.


“Reggie, to me, was the Super-Cop.  He was a courageous guy who stepped into Atlanta at a time when racial tensions were at an all time high,” Maynard Eaton, journalist and publicist, told APN.


“I thought he pulled it out very well.  He was a political animal, but really well liked.  Rarely is a policeman liked,” Eaton said.


“Controlling the guns, controlling the police force was a major jumping off point for Black men,” Eaton said, comparing Eaves to the late State Rep. Billy McKinney, who was also a Black police officer during a time when Black officers were not allowed to arrest White people in Atlanta.


“He morphed from being the Super-Cop, to a super-sort of activist and critic of the status quo.  You see a guy once arresting people, getting arrested now,” Eaton said, referring to his civil disobedience at Wells Fargo bank.


“He was [former Mayor] Maynard Jackson’s right hand man, brought down by Maynard personally.  He was an insider who became an outsider,” Eaton said.


“He was much of a major political figure as anyone in those days.  The cheating scandal weared him down, he became somewhat bitter after that.  He became an advocate and activist for Black folks,” Eaton said.


“It is with the heaviest of hearts that I bring to you news of an extremely personal loss for me… I knew him as my uncle, mentor and confidante,” Fulton County Chairman John Eaves said in a statement.


“Today, I learned that after several major health setbacks in recent months, my Uncle Reginald has died.  I was at his bedside, along with his siblings, at the time my Uncle Reginald passed,” John Eaves said.


“A. Reginald Eaves was a gregarious man who lived his life to the fullest.  He was a proud public servant and, more importantly, a proud family man.  He was a sounding board upon whom I leaned on many occasions.  Any place I had been or anything I had achieved in my life, Uncle Reginald had achieved before,” John Eaves said.


“This loss is a huge one for my family.  My uncle is part of the reason I wanted to enter the realm of public service.  He cared about making the community around us a better place.  He loved his family, he loved life and he loved the City of Atlanta, his adopted hometown,” John Eaves said.


“Throughout many of the health issues he encountered in recent years, I had many constituents and friends ask me about his condition and status.  What I can tell you now is this; the suffering he endured in recent years is over.  All I ask of you at this time is to remember my family in your prayers.  Thank you and May God bless you,” John Eaves said.




UPDATE 1: “A. Reginald Eaves came to Atlanta at a time when the City was in racial turmoil and transformational change was needed.  Eaves was on the leading edge of that change.  Besides his public role, Eaves was a dear friend to my father and the McKinney family,” former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) said in a statement.


  • Carlotta Harrell

    My condolences and prayers to the Eaves Family. Reggie as many of us called him was a mentor, teacher, and true friend to so many of us in Atlanta. I will truly miss him.

  • Reggie was truly an original. It was always a pleasure to work with him on political matters and converse with him on other topics. He is the kind of man one never forgets. My condolences to all family and friends.

    Tim Ryles

  • We have lost a giant in the world of public service. His record here in Atlanta speaks for itself. I want to make that the work he did in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is not forgotten. He
    served as Public Safety Commissioner and was instrumental in getting the first black in place as head of the state prison system. He spoke ever so eloquently about the problems crime cause for black businesses at a Federal Reserve conference in the mid 70’s. He was a vanguard on the
    Boston scene during those tough times under Gov. Sargent. Rest in peace, my brother. You helped and spoke up for many faces stuck in the bottom of the well.
    Your footprints will remain ever present in the arena of public service and persons with vision whose shoulders we stood on.

  • We have lost a giant in the world of public service. His record here in Atlanta speaks for itself. I want to make sure that the work he did in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is not forgotten. He served as Public Safety Commissioner and was instrumental in getting the first black in place as head of the state prison system. He spoke ever so eloquently about the problems crime cause for black businesses at a Federal Reserve conference in the mid 70’s. He was a vanguard on the Boston scene during those tough times under Gov. Sargent. Rest in peace, my brother. You helped and spoke up for many faces stuck in the bottom of the well.
    Your footprints will not be forgotten in the field of public safety.

  • I had the opportunity to work with A. Reginald Eaves when he was a Deputy Mayor in Boston back in the early 1970’s before he went to Atlanta. Mr. Eaves had an open door policy and worked with young people, particularly young African American voices and concerns were heard regarding public education and school desegregation. He was a respected member of Mayor Kevin H.White’s administration in Boston. He was highly respected in Boston and was missed when he decided to leave Boston for other opportunities of public service. I’m reminded, when I moved to Atlanta in the late 70’s and I got in touch with Mr. Eaves, although he was a busy man, he found time to meet with me, just to talk about old times in Boston and to help me transition from Boston to Atlanta. He loved addressing public policy issues related to police accountability and equal educational opportunity. Over the years I had the opportunity to stay in touch with Mr. Eaves, visiting him while traveling to Atlanta and staying in touch via Facebook. He will be missed in so many ways.

  • Addison C. Thomas

    Really… just “a few mistakes”?!

    One may not like to speak ill of the dead, but to paint Reginald Eaves as a “man of the people”, and to co-opt the term “presente”, traditionally reserved for latin@ victims of state repression and assassination, is completely out of line! Like many a corrupt politician, Eaves was happy to take kickbacks, sell votes, and better himself at the expense of others – including Atlanta’s poor. And, if I’m reading this correctly, even in his old age, he was defending the likes of Burrell Ellis??! Let’s not rewrite history so we can pretened that putting a few people of color in positions of power will fix the systemic issues born of white supremacy.


    • Why did you find it necessary to say such ugly things about a well respected man at a time like this while his family is mourning his passing? All you probably think you know is what you read in the newspapers or heard on the news. I really feel sorry for people like you!

  • Zellie Rainey Orr

    To the Eaves family… my thoughts and prayers are with you in your hour of bereavement.

    During my pursuit to rename Camp Creek Parkway, “Tuskegee Airmen Parkway”, it was Reggie who joined my endeavor. Reggie advised me that Camp Creek was a State Highway, and I [we] needed someone to present the legislation to the Georgia Assembly. Thus, he contacted Rep. Bob Holmes. The rest is history. (On July 31, 2008, Camp Creek Parkway was dedicated, “Tuskegee Airmen Parkway.”) TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!!

    Each time I see the Parkway signs, I will remember you. May you in rest in peace.

    Zellie Rainey Orr

  • I have known Reggie for 40 years and have the utmost respect for him. He paid his debt to society and don’t let that overshadow the good that he did. I was employed with Fulton County when he was elected on the Board of Commissioners and the county had a policy that they only hired African Americans as replacement if one left. Reggie was extremely helpful when we filed a class action suit and won changing that policy allowing people to gain employment based on their qualifications. When you had a problem he always had a listening ear and was instrumental in resolution. I will miss him and will keep his family lifted up in prayer.

  • eric b. moreland

    My condolences to the Eaves Family. I would like to know of the funeral plans for him. Thank You.

  • Death is time of repose and reflections and those who inflect hard and negative remarks is Not w/Out Sin. Ask your self What have you done for People???? No matter what he opened many doors for the unknowing!!! He was the Front Man for the those who had no Voice. God Bless his fight on earth I am So Happy +God is the last Judge! !!. Peace & Comfort to the Family