The first African American mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, an office he held from 1974 to 1982 and again from 1990 to 1994. During his tenure he had to deal with heightened racial tension and the Atlanta Child Murders that occurred from 1979 to 1981.
He sang in the Morehouse College Glee Club while attending the historically black college.
He was mayor of Atlanta when the city was selected to be the host city for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.
He married the radio host Valerie Richardson in 1980.
He was the mayor of Atlanta when Wayne Williams was arrested for the Atlanta Child Murders.