The six daughters of John Wesley Dobbs
The Jackson Family c.1944
1959 Atlanta Public Library
Rennie, Maynard and wife at 1973 victory celebration
Irene "Renie" Dobbs Jackson

Irene Dobbs Jackson was born in 1908, the first of Irene and John Wesley Dobbs' six daughters. Growing up in the thriving atmosphere of Auburn Avenue she was also a gifted pianist and scholar. Irene, known as "Renie," was valedictorian of her high school and also her 1929 Spelman College class.

In 1932, a man called and asked her to play piano at a party. She agreed and thus met her husband-to-be, Maynard Jackson, Sr. After she completed a master's degree at the University of Toulouse in France, Renie returned to the States and they were married. They had six children.

Following her husband's death in 1956, Renie packed up her children and headed back to the University of Toulouse to earn her doctorate in French. She completed the three-year program in two years, and returned to Atlanta to assume a post as a professor at Spelman College.

In 1959, Renie walked into the Atlanta Public Library and asked to become a member. While she had studied in France, she had been free to join any library she wanted and check out any books. But in Atlanta, that was not then permitted for African-Americans. Blacks were permitted to read books, but only in the basement. That May, Renie became the first African American to receive a library card from the main branch of the Atlanta Public Library system.

Her eldest son, Maynard Jackson, Jr., became Atlanta's first African American mayor, serving three terms 1974-1982 and 1990-1994.

The above was researched and written by Lauren Keating, freelance writer.