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James Edward "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 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 Cynthia McKinney, former United States Representative from Georgia and Green party Presidential candidate.

Billy McKinney
Member of the Georgia House of Representatives
from the 51st district
In office
January 11, 1993 – January 13, 2003
Preceded byThurbert Baker
Succeeded byNan Grogan Orrock
Member of the Georgia House of Representatives
from the 35th district
In office
January 1973 – January 11, 1993
Succeeded byTom Cauthorn
Personal details
James Edward McKinney

(1927-02-23)February 23, 1927
Abbeville, Georgia, U.S.
DiedJuly 15, 2010(2010-07-15) (aged 83)
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Leola Christion
Alma materClark College
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/serviceUnited States Army
Years of service1945–1946

McKinney was born in Abbeville in Wilcox County, Georgia. He attended the Atlanta public schools and Clark College, a historically black college. He became 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.

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.[1]

His daughter Cynthia McKinney had a long contentious relationship with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).[1] Journalist Alexander Cockburn alleged 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."[2]

In 2002, when asked about his daughter Cynthia McKinney using an old endorsement in her primary campaign, Billy McKinney said that the endorsement would not matter because "Jews have bought everybody. Jews. J-E-W-S."[3] 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 at the age of 83 in his southwest Atlanta home after a long struggle with cancer. He was in hospice care. His wife Leola and friends were with him at the time of death.[4][5]

A portion of Interstate 285 is known in his honor as the "James E. "Billy" McKinney Highway" between I-20 in northwest Atlanta and I-75 near Cumberland Mall.[6][7]


  1. ^ a b Nigut, Bill, "Deconstructing Cynthia McKinney,"Jewish Times Archived March 11, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, November 5, 1999
  2. ^ Cockburn, Alexander, "The Attack on Cynthia McKinney,""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-09-24. Retrieved 2010-08-23.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Counterpunch, August 21, 2002
  3. ^ Jennifer Siegel, "Foes Take Aim At McKinney In Surprise Georgia Race", Forward, 28 July 2006
  4. ^
  5. ^ Rhonda Cook; Ty Tagami (July 16, 2010). "Former state lawmaker Billy McKinney dies". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved 2010-07-16.
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ "Highways would lose McKinney connection". Augusta Chronicle. December 30, 2006. Retrieved 2008-08-08.