Georgia is the #1 state in the U.S. for business (Site Selection, October 2017).
What Makes an Atlanta Legend?
In Herman Russell’s case it has been someone who has changed not only the physical landscape of the city, but also its overall community. His company, H.J. Russell & Co., is responsible for the construction of some of the city’s most well-known structures such as the Georgia Dome, Turner Field, Philips Arena and Georgia Pacific Tower, just to name a few.
In 1963, Russell became the first black member and then later the second black president of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. He also worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and became an outspoken patron of the civil rights movement.
Along with his success, Russell grew more philanthropic, donating $1 million each to his alma mater, Tuskegee University, along with Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College and Georgia State University. Georgia State used the gift to create the Herman J. Russell Center for Entrepreneurship.
All of these outstanding achievements contributed to Russell being honored with Business to Business‘ Atlanta Legend Award. The following quotes pertain to Russell’s dramatic impact on Atlanta and come from some of Atlanta’s most well-known names.
Herman Russell’s Impact on Atlanta
“You don’t meet many individuals who have impacted as many lives as Mr. Russell,” says former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin. “He works every day to enhance the livability and success of the city through his development of outstanding communities and businesses. His tenacity and work ethic have made him one of the greatest business and entrepreneurial leaders not only in Atlanta but around the world.”
Arthur Blank, the 2010 Atlanta Rotary Business to Business Legend, says of Russell, “Herman’s legacy extends well beyond the landmark physical structures he’s helped to create. It’s as much about how he’s done it — through relationships and partnerships he’s forged and the strength of leadership he’s shown through the years, all of which have had an enormous influence in helping Atlanta fulfill its promise. Much of what we’ve achieved as a city wouldn’t have been possible without him.”
Sam Williams, president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, says Russell always has played a key role in the city’s success. “Herman is one of the great bridge builders for business, civic and racial cooperation, a characteristic that distinguishes Atlanta from any other city.”
Honorary Alumnus Award
Russell received Robinson’s Honorary Alumnus Award in 2007.
Herman J. Russell Sr. died on Nov. 15, 2014.