As we enter February, Black History month, let’s give honor in memory to Atlanta’s first Black Mayor, Maynard Holbrook Jackson, Jr. who in 1969 changed the history of politics in Atlanta. Politics seemed to come naturally to Maynard, his father was a graduate of Morehouse College and pastor of Friendship Baptist Church. Before moving his family from Dallas, Texas, to Atlanta Rev Jackson founded a voter registration league for blacks in Dallas and was the first black to run for the Dallas school board. Maynard’s maternal grandfather, John Wesley Dobbs, was for decades an early civil rights activist and pioneer in voter registration and was the founder of the Georgia Voter’s league back in 1935 (Now the American Voter’s League) and was Grand Master of the Prince Hall Masons of Georgia.
Mr. Dobbs was a bold and outspoken civic leader (take a drive down the street named after him in Atlanta) his steely efforts to encourage black voter registration would fortuitously pave the way for his grandson to seize political office decades later in a landmark victory that would subsequently change the face of history.
It has been said that Maynard Jackson created more black millionaires than anyone in America. He did it by making economic equity for African Americans one of his primary goals as mayor of Atlanta and refused to complete the new construction of Atlanta’s airport without minority participation (including women). The lasting example of his commitment is visible in the current standing Maynard Jackson International Atlanta Airport site and the addition of his name to the title of one of the busiest airports in the world – the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Even as he enjoyed his business success Maynard never forgot those who continue to struggle simply to be given a chance. “A leader must set an example for others to follow, especially in assuring equal justice and equal economic opportunity to African Americans, Latinos, other minorities and women, all of whom are legally, ethically and morally entitled to it,” he told the Butler Street YMCA Hungry Club in a speech on Feb. 19, 2003. The need for collective, positive struggle still is critical today. In the business world where many set their sights only on enriching themselves, Maynard Holbrook Jackson, Jr., was a leader. He set an example and never stopped fighting for equal economic opportunity for all in the Atlanta communities he served. Story By Geraldine (Gerri Elder, Former Chief of Staff to The Honorable Mayor, Maynard H. Jackson, Jr., and NPUR resident. Photo credit: Cision PR Web.
Boss Up, we must find and mentor leaders that care about us, The People. We need leaders who will work on our behalf. They say they will while on the campaign trail and as soon as they are elected they forget all that they campaign about and often betray us.
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The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves. Ray Kroc