Oct, 1973 – Atlanta, Ga – Maynard Jackson hugs his mother, Dr. Irene Dobbs Jackson, and his wife, Bunnie.

Maynard Jackson

Maynard Holbrook Jackson, Jr. (March 23, 1938 – June 23, 2003) was an American politician, a member of the Democratic Party, and the first African American mayor of Atlanta, Georgia. He served three terms, two consecutive terms from 1974 until 1982 and a third term from 1990 to 1994. Jackson became the first African-American mayor of Atlanta in the same week that Coleman Young became the first African-American mayor of Detroit.

During Jackson’s first term as the Mayor, much progress was made in improving race relations in and around Atlanta, and Atlanta acquired the true motto of “A City Too Busy to Hate.”

Maynard Jackson’s grandfather was the civil rights leader John Wesley Dobbs. His mother, Irene Dobbs Jackson, was a Professor of French at Spelman College in Atlanta. Jackson himself graduated from Morehouse College in 1956 when he was only eighteen years old. After attending the Boston University Law School for a short time, he held several jobs, including selling encyclopedias, before he decided to attend the North Carolina Central University Law School, from which he graduated in 1964.

Jackson married his first wife, Burnella “Bunnie” Burke, in 1965. This couple had three children, Elizabeth, Brooke, and Maynard III, before divorcing. Jackson married Valerie Richardson in 1980, with whom he fathered two more children, Valerie and Alexandra. Valerie R. Jackson hosts “Between the Lines” each weekend on the WABE-FM radio stadion, the Atlanta Public Broadcasting station.

As the Mayor of Atlata, Jackson led the beginnings and much of the progress on several huge public-works projects in Atlanta and its region. Jackson helped arrange for the rebuilding of the Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport’s huge terminal to modern standards, and this airport was renamed the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in his honor, shortly after his death. Jackson was the Mayor when the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) obtained a large amount of Federal funding for a rapid-transit rail-line system, when its construction began, and when MARTA began its first rail transit service in Atlanta and in DeKalb County in 1979, and during its continual expansion thereafter. Jackson was also the Mayor when Atlanta was selected as the host city for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, when the decision was made in September 1990. As the Mayor of Atlanta, he accepted the Olympic flag at the closing ceremonies in Barcelona, Spain, in 1992. There was a large amount of public-works in and around Atlanta that needed to be done anyway, such as Interstate Highway rebuilding projects and park renovations, but they were expedited in 1990 – 96 in preparation for the Olympic Games that arrived in August 1996.


Jackson unsuccessfully sought the post as the Democratic National Committee chairman in 2001, losing to the fund-raiser Terry McAuliffe, who had the backing of Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, with Jackson receiving the backing of the Presidential candidate Bill Bradley, among others. Jackson was National Development Chairman of the Democratic National Committee and was the first Chairman of the DNC Voting Rights Institute. In 2002, Jackson founded the American Voters League, a non-profit and non-partisan effort to increase national voter participation. Jackson appeared briefly in the documentary “startup.com” in 2000.

Jackson died in 2003 at the age of 65, of a cardiac arrest at an Arlington, Virginia, hospital after he suffered a heart attack at the Reagan National Airport. Jackson’s remains are buried at the Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta.

Jackson was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity that was established for Black Americans.


Maynard Jackson: A Biography, by Robert A. Holmes (Author)

Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn: A Saga of Race and Family, by Gary M. Pomerantz (Author)

Jan 7, 1974 – ATLANTA, Ga — Judge Luther Alverson (left) administers oath of office to Maynard Jackson.

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