Accountant, Radio Show Owner and Professor
Jesse B Blayton was born in Oklahoma, in late 1897 and went to school in Chicago. After graduating, he attended the University of Chicago. Then, Blayton moved to Atlanta, Georgia, to be an accountant. In 1928, Blayton became the first African American Certified Public Accountant in Georgia, and only the fourth nationwide. After receiving his certification, he taught at the University of Atlanta as a Professor. Eventually, his persistence led him to become the president of a bank in Atlanta, but he wasn’t done.
Jesse B Blayton, Radio show owner and operator
Adding to his firsts, Blayton purchased AM radio station WERD in 1949, making himself the first African-American to own and operate a station.
WERD housed the most popular DJ of the time, “Jockey Jack” Gibson. Even though the music was popular rhythm-and-blues hits, that wasn’t the only draw. What made Gibson different was the news pieces. During a time where other radio stations glossed over the topic of civil rights, WERD hit it head-on. “Jockey Jack” covered the tension and the movements, interviewing respected professors and community leaders. Blayton bravely tackled a topic that needed a voice during one of the tensest times in American history.
Then, in the 1960’s, WERD and Blayton went further. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s church, Southern Christian Leadership Conference was located in the same building. Blayton’s radio station was where Dr. King spoke his Sunday Sermons, and eventually where he spoke about his marches. Not only did Blayton report on news that other media outlets were glossing over, he gave a loud speaker to one of the most well known men in civil rights history.
Blayton kept the station until his partial retirement in 1968, but he remained active in the community until his death in 1977.
In 1995, Jesse Blayton Sr. was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame.