December 2000

Jesse Washington, Jr.

Community Leader

Jesse Washington, Jr.

Jesse Washington, Jr. is South Carolina’s 4th Commissioner of the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission, serving as chief executive officer of the Commission and secretary to the statewide 15 member Board of Commissioners. As the Commission’s director, Washington continues his long history of public service beginning in 1968 as a middle school social studies teacher. He served his country as a solider in the United States Army and is a Viet Nam War veteran, and, in 1974, he began his career with the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission as a field representative working with state agencies and the equal employment opportunity program. Washington worked his way through the ranks until in 1989 he left the Commission to take the Executive Director position with the Greater Columbia Community Relations Council. While at the Community Relations Council, he established a countywide bi-racial task force of some 200 individuals to recommend solutions to racial problems plaguing Richland County. Among many other programs Mr. Washington was instrumental in establishing, he established the Communities of Faith United which brought together congregation and clergy exchanges across racial lines during worship, fellowship, and ministry activities that have expanded statewide. Mr. Washington also designed a seven point plan to improve race relations that includes the media, law enforcement, religion, education, business, neighborhood, and politics to develop a spirit of cooperation and harmony. Through his dedicated public service, Washington has been a leader in the development and implementation of many programs designed to enhance race relations both in South Carolina and nationwide. Some of his accomplishments include establishing a voluntary statewide Code of Racial Ethics in politics, a proactive measure designed to eliminate the use of derogatory remarks and to raise the spirit of political debate to a higher moral ground; created and hosted South Carolina Educational Television’s “The Great Divides,” a statewide interaction television series designed to open dialogue among the races, culture, and religions; produced and hosted “Informat,” which kept viewers informed about issues effecting their communities; published articles in two statewide publications discussing the quality of life in South Carolina and explaining equal employment opportunity plans; conducted statewide forums designed to improve the status of women and minorities in state government; designed a foundation for the establishment of local community relations councils to resolve potential race problems at grass roots levels; co-hosted and co-produced “Religious Tolerance After 9/11: South Carolina Perspectives,” aired on South Carolina Educational Television. Mr. Washington has received numerous awards and honors including the prestigious Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest award; the Key to the City of Columbia; BellSouth 2000 African American History Calendar of outstanding South Carolinians; Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce’s Woodrow Wilson Pinnacle award; Boy Scouts of America Whitney M. Young, Jr. Service award; and the National Advocacy Center; The American Society for Public Administration’s 2005-2006 Public Administrator of the year award. Mr. Washington, along with only some 160 other national leaders (only 3 South Carolinians) from business, government, media, and academic arenas, was chosen and attended the National Security Seminar sponsored by the United States Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. Mr. Washington’s service to his community is evidenced by his many board and association memberships and his leadership roles while serving those organizations. He served on the American Red Cross, United Way of the Midlands, Columbia Housing Development Corporation, South Carolina Diversity Council, Minority Business Council, Greater Columbia Literacy Council, Junior League of Columbia, Leadership Columbia, Leadership South Carolina, South Carolina Executive Institute, Palmetto Pride, and many others. Currently, Washington serves on the boards of South Carolina State Credit Union, Providence Hospital, United Way of South Carolina, Better Business Bureau. Washington, a native of Rembert, South Carolina, earned a Bachelor of Science degree from North Carolina A & T State University and has done graduate work at the University of South Carolina. He has a son, Jesse Washington, III., a daughter, Melissa Washington Gary, a son-in-law, Gerald Gary and two grandsons, Gerald, II. and Cameron Washington Gary. He is also a Master Mason. Born in 1946, he is the son of Jesse and Geneva Dennis Washington and grew up on a farm in Rembert, South Carolina. Mr. Washington has been called to ministry and was ordained a Reverend in October of 2008. Currently he is a student at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, pursuing a Master of Divinity Degree.