Interview with Maynard Jackson
QUESTION 7
JACKIE SHEARER:

Let me interrupt you on this because I'd like to break down all this--

MAYNARD JACKSON:

OK.

JACKIE SHEARER:

--the specific bits on it, OK? We're still rolling. So let me begin by asking you, um, to tell me about, um, ah, some specific reactions to your executive order on affirmative action.

MAYNARD JACKSON:

I don't think you have enough film to go into that. Well, the, ah, ah, the reaction was immediate. It was not all White. It was Black and White. The surprise for me was, ah, the number of, ah, Black friends, well-meaning, who were frightened by the aggressiveness of this program. And who cautioned me to slow down. Ah, that they were concerned there might be a reaction against the Black community. Well, um, our, our studies indicated to us there was, the Black community was in a position that, um, for the majority of Black people, things could not get any worse. In some ways, things were excellent, and in other ways were very good or getting better, different categories, but, and better than almost any other city in the country, I keep saying that, because it was true. Atlanta was clearly head and shoulders above the rest of the na--ah, above the rest of the nation. But, not as good as we could be, and not as good as we had to be. Um, um, I had people that say, when I talked about affirmative action, and they were contracting with the city, professional firms or whatever, maybe a law firm, ah, maybe a major corporation, um, I've got a whole file of reactions. You know, one of which was, well, Maynard, ah, This was a, a major, ah, manager of a major White-run corporation, who got very upset with me about the policy on affirmative action. And um, said that "I don't see this to be necessary, we're going to do what's right, you know, you can trust us and so forth." And I said, "I have every confidence, but ah, you know, I want to trust you, but I also want you to sign on the dotted line." Ah, said, "Well, look, I'm just not to going out and hire the first Negro I see." I said, "I think that's a pretty sound personnel policy." I said, "I wouldn't either."** And I said, "We're not talking about that. We're talking about a policy. An affirmative action plan." And I said, "I want to work with you." You know, "Well, I can't get it done in a month." I said, "I've never given you a timetable." "Well who do you want us to hire?" I said, "You know my policy, I never, ever recommend the person." And my reason for that is because I never wanted them to be able to say, "Well, Maynard's doing this to kind of get his buddies and his cronies into a job." So I would never recommend anybody for a particular position. But when the first of the downtown banks responded to our initiatives after a while, and, ah, came in and said, "We want to, we want to adopt an affirmative action plan, and we've spotted somebody in the bank we want to promote. It's going to take us about four or five months." I said, "That's fine, I've never said, how long you have to do it. All I want is your word." They kept their word. This was the First Georgia Bank. And, um, they said, "But what about for the board, you know, who do you recommend?" I said, "I don't do, I don't do that." Well, "Would you respond if we brought you three or four names?" "Sure, I'd be happy to," and thats how Tom Corty was recommended to his first board. They asked "What about these men," "All excellent people, all of them," "What about Tom Corty," "Excellent Man, will do an excellent job." Well, "Who do you think is the best of them," "Well I think Tom Corty, a former banker, ah, and a business men will probably do the best job for the bank." And that's what we're talking about. We don't just want to get a Black person on who can't help you, and therefore discourage you and your colleagues in the banking community from inviting other Black people in the board. So we were always balancing, always a balancing act. And there were thousands of other examples, but it was never dull .

JACKIE SHEARER:

Good, now what I'd like to do--