A generation before Barack Obama became America’s first black president, another young, charismatic African-American politician was making history. With his election as mayor of Atlanta in 1973, Maynard Holbrook Jackson became the first black person to hold that role, and the first black mayor of any major Southern city. He also is the only mayor in the city’s history to serve three terms (after serving two terms in the 1970s and early 80s, he was re-elected in 1989).
Jackson transformed Atlanta by expanding opportunities for the city’s minority businesses—especially at the airport that now bears his name—and is credited as one of the fathers of the Atlanta political structure many know today. But more than a decade after his death, Jackson’s life and legacy remain relatively unknown.
His family now hopes to tell that story in the documentary “Maynard,” now in pre-production. Award-winning producer/director Sam Pollard, who has worked on films such as “Slavery by Another Name,” “When the Levees Broke,” and “Four Little Girls,” has signed on to direct. Several members of Jackson’s family, including three of his children, are among the executive producers, operating as Auburn Avenue Films.
“My father fought the good fight for equal opportunity and economic equality,” said daughter Brooke Jackson Edmond. “He believed the way to accomplish that was through the power of educational achievement, the vote and economic strength—the book, the ballot, and the buck. There is a thriving African-American business class largely because of Maynard Jackson.”
The film will also focus on Jackson’s personal challenges. Jackson’s son and namesake, Maynard H. Jackson III, said the documentary will show “the giant of a mayor, but more importantly, you see the giant of a real man.”
An official release date has not been announced.