In this WSB newsfilm clip from January 3, 1980, Atlanta, Georgia mayor Maynard Jackson speaks about the impact on the Civil Rights movement on the country and on his life.
The clip begins with Mayor Jackson sitting in an office in a high-backed leather chair. A female reporter begins to say something to Jackson. He interrupts her to suggest that she close the door to block excess noise. After a break in the clip, the camera focuses on Jackson's hands. The reporter asks Jackson about the impact of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Jackson points to politics as the "last nonviolent role for the masses of people." Jackson explains that while he does not believe in violent social change, he does believe "that politics, even though it is imperfect, affords the best opportunity for change. The Civil Rights movement made possible the laws that made possible the political change we are now seeing." The reporter next asks Jackson if he feels the Civil Rights movement is still alive. Jackson responds that the movement is still alive and in a new phase focusing on fulfilling promises and producing change. Asked about the future of African Americans in the Civil Rights movement, Jackson predicts a growth in African American political activity. He points out that there are ninety-seven African American mayors in the United States and over two thousand African American elected officials. According to Jackson, that number represents about one percent of all elected officials in the United States. He expresses his confidence that those numbers will grow, saying "we have no where to go but up. And I'm confident that we are going up."
Next, the reporter asks Jackson about the role of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Civil Rights movement. Jackson calls King's role "profound" and "the backbone of the advances we have made." Jackson refers to King as "a friend of all people" and "a friend of my family for many generations." Jackson does believe in the conspiracy theory about King's death and he blames a few white people who did not understand King for killing him. Jackson recounts that his daughter Brooke was born the day King was buried. Jackson says he left the hospital and joined the march to Morehouse College. He says that during the march he began to realize his work as a lawyer was not enough to bring about the social change he hoped to achieve, so he entered politics, qualifying in an election against United States senator Herman Talmadge less than two months later.
Maynard Jackson, grandson of the Atlanta community leader John Wesley Dobbs, was the first African American mayor of a major Southern city in the United States. During Jackson's three terms as mayor of Atlanta, he worked to increase opportunities for African Americans in the community and to foster biracial cooperation.
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The Civil Rights Digital Library received support from a National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to the University of Georgia by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for digital conversion and description of the WSB-TV Newsfilm Collection.