James L. Hill (“Hilly”) was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, on August 6, 1941. As a youth, Hill lived in several different places, including Richmond, Virginia, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, before he settled in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1959, he graduated from James Hillhouse High School in New Haven. At Hillhouse, he was an outstanding athlete, excelling in basketball and track. His prowess on the court earned him a basketball scholarship to Morgan State College in 1959. While at Morgan State, Hill continued his outstanding athletic career, remaining in good academic standing at the same time.
Hill’s participation in the founding of Groove Phi Groove stemmed from his desire to break from the norm and experience the challenges of creating his own organization. Hill has the distinction of being the first president of the Fellowship. His fondest Groove memory is the organization’s first official meeting in Banneker Hall, on campus, and escorting the First Queen into the refractory with everyone dressed in black and white.
Hill graduated from Morgan State in 1964 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and a minor in Education. Not long after graduating, Hill was drafted into the United States Army. He attended finance school, earning a Certificate in Military Pay, and worked in that capacity. He did a nine-month tour of duty in Vietnam, earning the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal. Hill left the military in May 1967 with an honorable discharge and a Specialist Fifth Class Ranking. From 1967 to 2000, he worked in New Haven, Connecticut, as a Neighborhood Supervisor of Recreation in community schools. He retired in 2000.
Hill has two daughters, Toya Clark and Yolanda McCray, and one grandson and namesake James L. Clark. He enjoys jogging, table tennis, and youth development. When not spending time with family and friends, Hill enjoys traveling the United States by train, especially to Savannah, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; and Las Vegas, Nevada.
Hill’s hope for Groove’s future is that all of the organization’s goals and objectives are met in a timely manner.