MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis’ first black personnel manager, JB Trotter has died. WREG spoke with his family about his legacy and what he left behind.
Tuesday morning, 84 year old JB Trotter passed away with his wife and his 18-year-old son by his side. Joseph Trotter VI played a big role in taking care of his father after he had a stroke six years ago.
“The time that I knew him, the time of me taking care of him was some of the greatest years I had,” Joseph Trotter VI said.
JB Trotter was the first president of the local union 1733 of the A.F.S.C.M.E of Memphis. He was pivotal in leading efforts to desegregate the Memphis City Fire Department.
His wife, Antionette, said he also worked with the Memphis Police Department to improve recruiting and better the working environment.
“He didn’t do things to get recognition – it was just something he did out of the goodness of his heart, it was part of his nature,” Antionette Trotter said.
Trotter’s civil rights contributions were recognized in a Tennessee State House resolution – which called him a “public – spirited citizen of the highest order and an exceptional asset to his community.”
His son said he is not only thankful for what his father did but also that he was able to an enjoy the fruits of his labor with him.
“During that time period he wouldn’t be able to walk outside, we wouldn’t be able to go outside push him around. We wouldn’t be able to go to the Hilton hotel and relax for the last couple of days,” Trotter VI said.
Trotter said during his life his father was always his civil rights icon.
“Martin Luther King Day, I would always bring that trophy. I would always bring that trophy behind me to school and always do an interview with my dad, asking him the same story, what he did and why he did it,” Trotter VI said.
JB Trotter leaves behind nine children and a legacy of public service. Trotter was also just the seventh black employee the city of Memphis hired.