October 16

Maynard Jackson Elected

October 16, 1973 - Atlanta

There were many firsts in his family.

Born in Dallas, Texas in 1938,Maynard Holbrook Jackson, Jr.  moved to Atlanta when he was 8.  His Georgia roots ran deep. His grandfather, John Wesley Dobbs, founded the Georgia Voters League. His mother was the first African-American with an Atlanta public library card. His aunt Mattiwilda was the first African-American to sing at La Scala.

Jackson jumped into Georgia politics at age 30, running unsuccessfully for Herman Talmadge’s Senate seat. In 1973 he took on incumbent Mayor Sam Massell and won the racially polarized election with nearly 60 percent of the vote. At 35, he was Atlanta’s first black mayor, the first of a major southern city.

He would serve three terms. As mayor he hired more black police officers, ensured that minority contractors got more city business and completed the new terminal at Hartsfield International Airport — ahead of schedule, and under budget.

The airport was renamed Hartsfield-Jackson in his honor in 2003, a lasting tribute to the man who was elected Atlanta’s first black mayor on October 16, 1973, Today in Georgia History.