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Black Power in DixieA Political History of African Americans in Atlanta$
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Alton Hornsby Jr.

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780813032825

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813032825.001.0001

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Black Power Triumphant, 1970–1981

Black Power Triumphant, 1970–1981

(p.130) 6 Black Power Triumphant, 1970–1981
Black Power in Dixie

Alton Hornsby

University Press of Florida

This chapter focuses on the events of 1970 to 1981 which marked the triumph of black power. In 1970, the election of the first black vice mayor marked a significant change in the political power of the blacks. Following the election of a black vice mayor and the subsequent fall of the Massell administration, the black voters saw hope in the then young black vice mayor, Maynard H. Jackson Jr. He was prepped for the next local election wherein he was to be elected mayor by the black voters of Atlanta. After a century of change in black participation in the political affairs of Atlanta, starting from almost nil to the margin victory for three white mayors, black electoral power triumphed in the mayoral election of 1973. In the 1977 elections, Mayor Maynard H. Jackson Jr. was returned to office by Atlanta voters in a victory of near-landslide proportions, trouncing all opponents, including his former administrative services commissioner. In his elections and administrations, Jackson was fortunate that all of these coincided with the growth of black influence in Atlanta. In the earlier part of his tenure, a consistent majority of blacks and several whites on the council gave him virtual carte blanche for his policies. Although the black councilman Q.V. Williamson was the most senior black elected official in city government, he became a Jackson floor leader. Hence, the mayor in large part dominated the executive and legislative branches during his term. Without this black solidarity in his term, Jackson would have been easily frustrated in most of his major and controversial policies, including police reform and joint venturing. It was in fiscal matters that the African American councilmen first showed their independence of the mayor, and it was in these matters that they continued to have their major differences with Jackson. But these were often compromised to the satisfaction of all parties concerned on both socioeconomic and political matters. Jackson could rise if deemed necessary, the cry of white racism at his opponents, a cry that resounded well with many African American councilmen.

Keywords:   black power, political power, Maynard H Jackson Jr., black voters, black electoral power, African American councilmen

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