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Wed, 03.23.1938

From Texas to Georgia, Maynard Jackson, Jr.

Maynard Jackson Jr.

On this date, in 1938, Maynard Jackson was born. He was a Black attorney and politician.

Born in Dallas, Maynard Holbrook Jackson, Jr., was the third of six children from a family considered a member of the cities "Black aristocracy." His father, Maynard Jackson, Sr., was a Baptist minister and his mother, Irene (Dobbs) Jackson, was a college language teacher with a doctorate in French. Young Jackson and his family moved to Atlanta when he was seven years old, where his father took over as pastor of the Friendship Baptist Church.  Her was the nephew of vocalist Mattiwilda Dobbs.

Jackson considered becoming a clergyman but instead attended Morehouse College in Atlanta and earned a B.A. degree in political science and history in 1956. After graduation, Jackson worked a number of different jobs, including with the Ohio State Bureau of Unemployment Compensation. He also sold encyclopedias. He entered law school at North Carolina Central University, where he received a J.D. degree cum laude in 1964.  The following year he married Burnella "Bunnie" Hayes Burke. They had three children, Elizabeth, Brooke, and Maynard III. The couple eventually divorced. After returning to Atlanta, Jackson was an attorney for the National Labor Relations Board, after passing his bar exams in 1965.

Two years later, he joined and managed a public interest, low-income legal service. At this time he married Valerie Richardson Jackson and became the father of four daughters and a son. He became the attorney and director of community relations for the Emory Neighborhood Law Office in Atlanta in 1968.  One year later, he was a senior partner at Jackson, Patterson & Parks until 1973.

Jackson was a 30-year-old political novice when he ran for the Senate against Herman Talmadge. Although losing the election, he put together an efficient voting machine that lasted for years to come, one that showed it can win big for the Democratic Party. He became the first Black to be elected mayor of Atlanta, and the first to serve as chief executive of any major Southern city.   He served as mayor of Atlanta from 1973-1981 and 1989-1993.  He transformed Atlanta by implementing programs to secure city contracts for minority-owned businesses.

Jackson considered a run for Georgia Senator Zell Miller’s seat when Miller stepped down in 2004. Jackson, who suffered from diabetes, had major heart surgery in 1992 after doctors found six arterial blockages.  Maynard Jackson died of a heart attack on June 23, 2003 while on a business trip to Washington, D.C.

Atlanta Rising: The Invention of an International City 1946-1996,
by Frederick Allen,
Atlanta: Longstreet Press,
copyright 1996

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