Maynard Jackson

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Maynard Holbrook Jackson
Maynard Jackson NGE.jpg
54th & 56th Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia
In office
1974–1982
Preceded by Sam Massell
Succeeded by Andrew Young
In office
1990–1994
Preceded by Andrew Young
Succeeded by Bill Campbell
Personal details
Born (1938-03-23)March 23, 1938
Dallas, Texas
Died June 23, 2003(2003-06-23) (aged 65)
Arlington, Virginia
Resting place Oakland Cemetery in

Atlanta, Georgia

Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) I1) Burnella "Bunnie" Burke (divorced)
(2) Valerie Richardson
Children Elizabeth, Brooke and Maynard, III (first marriage)

Valerie and Alexandria (second marriage)

Alma mater Morehouse College
Boston University Law School
North Carolina Central University Law School
Profession Attorney, Politician

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, serving three terms (1974–82, 1990–94).

Family history, background and personal life[edit]

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, where he sang in the Morehouse College Glee Club.[1] 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. He was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

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

Mayor of Atlanta[edit]

During Jackson's first term as the mayor, much progress was made in improving race relations in and around Atlanta. As mayor, he led the beginnings and much of the progress on several huge public-works projects in Atlanta and its region. He 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. Also named after him is the new international terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport called the Maynard Holbrook Jackson Jr. International Terminal, which opened in May 2012. He also fought against the construction of freeways through intown neighborhoods.

Jackson was 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. He was also mayor when Atlanta was selected as the host city for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, when the decision was made in September 1990. As mayor, he accepted the Olympic flag at the 1992 closing ceremonies in Barcelona, Spain. Many planned public works projects, such as improvements to freeways and parks, and the completion of Freedom Parkway, were expedited from 1990-1996 in preparation for the Olympic Games that began in August 1996.

Jackson's first term as mayor also coincided with the Atlanta Child Murders case between 1979–81, which he played a prominent role in resolving, both in supporting the Atlanta Police and other police forces in the area, but also by endeavoring to calm the huge amount of public tension that arose because of these serial killings. The murderer, Wayne Williams, was caught in 1981, tried, convicted, and sentenced to serve two consecutive life sentences in prison.

In 1974, Jackson received the Samuel S. Beard Award for Greatest Public Service by an Individual 35 Years or Under, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.[2]

Racial Controversy[edit]

Maynard Jackson provoked his first major racial crisis in May 1974 when he attempted to fire the incumbent white police chief, John Inman. Atlanta's growing crime problem and charges of racial insensitivity toward African Americans prompted Jackson's decision. The firing increased racial tensions within the city and detracted from Atlanta's proud motto: "too busy to hate." Another controversy followed in August 1974 when Mayor Jackson appointed a college friend and African American activist to become public safety commissioner. The new commissioner, A. Reginald Eaves,[3] lacked police experience and created a great deal of controversy when he appointed an ex-convict as his personal secretary and began a system of quota promotions and hiring in the police department, which many decried as "reverse discrimination." Despite the outcry Eaves remained in his post and, by the spring of 1976, Atlanta experienced a drop in crime rates. However, Jackson was forced to fire Eaves after a police exam cheating scandal was uncovered.[4] Eaves was later convicted by a federal jury of extortion in 1988 after he was caught selling his vote on two rezonings.[5]

Atlanta's Crime[edit]

In addition to the 1979-1981 Atlanta Child Murders mentioned above there was significant concern about crime in Atlanta during Mayor Jackson's tenure. In 1979, with a soaring murder rate and nationwide publicity about crime there, Georgia Governor George Busbee, acting on a request from Mayor Maynard Jackson, called in Georgia State Patrol troopers to help patrol the downtown. The business community accused Mayor Maynard Jackson and Police Chief George Napper of dismissing public concerns about crime. Atlanta had the highest murder rate and the highest overall crime rate of any city, and the numbers were rapidly climbing higher, with a 69% increase in homicides between 1978 and 1979 alone.[6]

Service to the Democratic National Committee[edit]

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, he founded the American Voters League, a non-profit and non-partisan effort to increase national voter participation. He appeared briefly in the 2001 documentary Startup.com.

Death in 2003[edit]

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 Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. His remains are buried at the Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Sam Massell
Mayor of Atlanta
1974–1982
Succeeded by
Andrew Young
Preceded by
Andrew Young
Mayor of Atlanta
1990–1994
Succeeded by
Bill Campbell