|Irene "Renie" Dobbs
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
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
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