Maynard Holbrook Jackson

Maynard Jackson was elected in 1973 as the first African American mayor of Atlanta and the first of a major southern city. Andrew Young followed Maynard as the second African American mayor and his legacy is a blog for another day.  Andy has written and lectured a good bit about his public service in Atlanta and as an international ambassador.  Maynard did not have a chance to write his memoirs, but it is important to examine his life and his impact on Atlanta and southern politics.

Jackson is legendary for his courage and commitment to diversity. He appointed women, neighborhood leaders and African Americans to his Cabinet and boards.  The times made the conversations tense and his proposals to include neighborhoods in city policy decisions, expand minority and female business enterprise opportunities from 1% to 25%, and to create the city’s economic development programs were very controversial. Atlanta survived the change and thrived as a progressive city and a pacesetter among American cities.

Over the years, from far and wide, I’ve heard stories about Jackson from numerous business and political leaders. As the William and Camille Cosby Endowed Chair at Spelman College, I began interviewing some of Jackson’s colleagues and friends in an effort to fill in information gaps about Jackson’s era.  Excerpts from the raw unedited video series, Maynard Holbrook Jackson: Setting the Record Straight will be shared from time to time on this blog as a tribute to Jackson’s leadership as mayor of this great city.



  1. this was great. maynard made such an impact on the city and so many individual lives. i can’t imagine how my own life would be changed if i had never had the chance to work with and for him. thanks for making me remember and be grateful.

  2. derek alphran says:

    Shirely, mayor emeritus, that is great. I look forward to more of the oral history reflections of Maynard’s legacy,
    He had such an impact on many of us, particularly we, the young morehouse students at the time of his 1973 election. I remember meeting you, Pearl, David, Michael and many others during that time. Some of my classmates abandoned graduate education, law school and school jump in head first with the new mayor;.acquiring an education first hand in the politics of governing. Black electoral politics became our calling. He had some of the best talent around, black and white, and the black academy in Atlanta to draw from and beyond. Keep telling the story.

  3. The timing of this could not be more perfect; so many have expressed a desire have this amazing/groundbreaking legacy documented in a way that was fitting. Maynard Jackson was the paradigm change for governance not just as an African American “first” but as an American Citizen first and last. I give Praise for knowing him and a Praise Dance to you Shirley for taking the Advice of the Elders and turning your attention to this wonderful ‘work’. May Allah Guide this narrative, Protect it and imbue it with Light from beginning to end.

  4. Maynard Eaton says:

    What an honor to have been asked to be interviewed and share my thoughts/memories in Mayor Franklin’s first documentary endeavor. I applaud and salute her, as well we all should. It was also an honor to have reported on the amazing and iconic Maynard Jackson during his second and third terms in office; plus his extraordinary entrepreneurial efforts. Being a Black newsman in his compelling presence was a memorable and meaningful experience–arguably the highlight of my 38 year journalism career in Atlanta. Thanks to Shirley’s riveting and robust documentary I was able to reveal what it was like to live next door to my namesake at the then Peachtree North apartments when he was courting his future wife Valarie — losing nearly 100 pounds in the process — and what it felt like to be brutally berated by this silver-tongued political power broker when he disliked a story I may have reported on 11-Alive. I will also always fondly recall, that when Mayor Jackson first met my mother he put tears in her eyes when he said, “Your son is the real Maynard.”
    Maynard Jackson was the quintessential Black elected leader and political strategist. He was the father of affirmative action and craftily shepherded Atlanta through the horrific “Missing and Murdered Children” crisis from 1979-81. In my view, there will never be anyone else nearly like him—he made millionaires out his political cronies, and then had to leave town to get a job!! Hmmm what does that say about them and us?? He was a powerful and palpable presence. Thanks Shirley Franklin for enlightening us about the brilliance of Mayor Jackson. And, one last personal note. When I first met Atlanta’s First Black Mayor” back in 1977 I honestly disliked my name, Maynard. Thanks to him and his lofty legacy, I love it!!

  5. Clara Axam says:

    Bravo ! The history — oral or otherwise — is long overdue. Clara Axam