September 4, 2018  (Web Review)


(2017) 99 min. DVD: $19.99. Virgil Films (avail. from most distributors). Closed captioned.

Reviewer rating: 3.5/4

Maynard Jackson (1938-2003) was one of the most significant African American political figures to emerge in the years following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Filmmaker Samuel D. Pollard’s documentary does a fine job recalling Jackson’s remarkable and often controversial career. Jackson’s brilliance was recognized in his youth when he entered Morehouse College at the age of 14, followed by Boston University Law School at age 18. He first gained national attention in a bold campaign against Georgia’s long-serving segregationist Senator Herman Talmadge in 1968. Jackson lost but two years later was elected vice-mayor of Atlanta and won the mayoralty in 1973, becoming the city’s first black mayor. Jackson served from 1974-82 and again from 1990-94, a leadership period that witnessed a number of major achievements, from the construction of the international airport and the MARTA rail system to the upset victory in the bidding for the 1996 Olympics. Jackson also faced challenges during his tenure, including a racially-tinged controversy surrounding the firing of a white police chief, and the anxiety created by the Atlanta child murders in 1979-81. To his credit, Jackson was an effective communicator who was comfortable with self-deprecatory humor, most notably when the roly-poly mayor engaged in a comic boxing match with Muhammad Ali. A stirring tribute to a groundbreaking figure, this is highly recommended. Aud: C, P. (P. Hall)