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Sun, 02.16.1908

Irene Dobbs Jackson, Pianist, and Educator born

Irene Dobbs Jackson

*Irene Dobbs Jackson was born on this date in 1908.  She was a Black educator, pianist, and community activist. 

From Atlanta, GA, Irene Dobbs was the first of Irene and John Wesley Dobbs' six daughters. Growing up in the thriving atmosphere of Atlanta’s Auburn Avenue, she was a gifted pianist and scholar.  Known as "Renie," she was valedictorian of her high school and her 1929 Spelman College class. 

In 1932, a man called and asked her to play piano at a party. She agreed and thus met her husband-to-be, Maynard Jackson, Sr. After she received her master's degree at the University of Toulouse in France, Dobbs returned to the States and was married. Dobbs and Jackson Sr. had six children.  Following her husband's death in 1956, she and her children returned to the University of Toulouse to earn her doctorate in French. She completed the three-year program in two years and returned to Atlanta as a professor at Spelman College. 

In 1959, Jackson entered the Atlanta Public Library to become a member.  But in Atlanta, that was against the policy of Jim Crow.  Blacks were permitted to read books only in the basement. That May, she became the first Black to receive a library card from the main branch of the Atlanta Public Library system.  Her eldest son, Maynard Jackson, Jr., became Atlanta's first Black mayor. Irene "Renie" Dobbs Jackson died in 1999. 

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