Flashback: Atlanta City Hall, 1974, when Maynard Jackson was the city’s first black mayor

“Being the first black mayor is what you wish on your enemy.”
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Maynard Jackson

Photograph by Al Stephenson/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

He may have been born in Dallas, but Maynard Jackson was an Atlantan through and through. Grandson of civil rights titan John Wesley Dobbs, Jackson graduated Morehouse College at 18. When Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down on April 4, 1968, Jackson, then a young attorney, realized he needed to do more with his life. The day after Bobby Kennedy was killed, Jackson resigned from his firm to make a long shot—and unsuccessful—bid for the U.S. Senate against Herman Talmadge. But he found success on the local level, first as vice mayor and then in 1973 as the city’s first black mayor, where his push for affirmative action at City Hall and the airport that now bears his name probed just how far the City Too Busy to Hate was willing to go. In 1988, he said—tongue in cheek—that “being the first black mayor is what you wish on your enemy.” Maynard, a documentary produced by Jackson’s son and daughter-in-law about the legendary politician’s life, will premiere this spring.


This article originally appeared in our January 2018 issue.

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