Interview with Willie Bolden

OK So let's get back to 1974, Maynard Jackson is inaugurated as first Black mayor of Atlanta. What were the Black community's expectations of him?


The Black community expectations of Maynard, in my opinion, was very high. Very high for several reasons. One, ah, reason is that Maynard had served before becoming mayor, ah, as vice mayor for four years. And during that period of time, Maynard was very supportive of the Black community, supportive of the Black issues and concerns. Maynard Jackson, ah, pretty much was responsible for the deletion of White and colored signs over water fountains in the city of Atlanta. One specific place I'm, I'm very familiar with is the 14th Street Water Department, where as vice mayor, Maynard went out there, like he did many work in--ah, installations, and he saw this White-colored, ah, water sign, and he saw where Whites were on one side, ah, changing clothes and Blacks on the other, and he said, I'm going to come back in a week, and when I come back, I want all this water to be one color, either all White or all colored, and I want these walls to come down, and I want to have one dressing room for everybody. And of course, I need not say when he went back, that was done. Ah, so Maynard was very supportive, Maynard was supportive of the workers in city government. Ah, we know that, ah, prior to Maynard, going in as vice mayor, you got a promotion based on who you knew. And you had to know somebody in the Moose Club. Well, hell, Blacks didn't know anybody in the Moose Club, because they weren't affiliated with the Moose Club, or, or the Shriners, and these were the people who got promotions and the best jobs. And Maynard, ah, and when he went in as vice mayor, sort of helped clean that up, and give everybody a fair shot at promotional positions. So the Black community was very supportive of Maynard. Ah, ah, when Maynard ran for mayor, AFSCME union, which, ah, I worked for, for about five and a half years, not only supported Maynard monetarily, but we supported him physically. We were out in the streets, knocking on doors, passing out literature, making telephone calls, carrying voters to the polls, because we believed that Maynard stood for what we stood for, and for that we wanted to show him our appreciation, so we got and worked very hard for Maynard. So, the expectations were high and, and for the most part, ah, I would say that lived Maynard lived up to that expectation. He made some mistakes, but then, who don't? But for the most part, ah, we looked upon Maynard, ah, very favorably, ah, we had high expectations, and, and in our opinion, ah, he lived up to that, to that, ah, realization.