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Crowds Mourn First Black Mayor of Atlanta

June 27, 2003|From Associated Press

ATLANTA — Hundreds of mourners waited in lines stretching two blocks Thursday to pay their respects to Maynard Jackson, the first black mayor of Atlanta.

Former President Carter was among those who visited Jackson's open casket in Atlanta City Hall, giving a brief speech to 200 relatives and friends of the three-term mayor.

"The life and contributions of this great man will never be forgotten by the people of Atlanta or Georgia, and the personal friendship of this man is one I will never forget," Carter said.

Jackson, who died Monday of a heart attack at the age of 65, was a political mastermind who influenced urban politics for decades after his 1973 election. The great-grandson of slaves, Jackson has been called a pioneer for forcing the city's white business elite to open doors to minorities.

Huge crowds of mourners came to City Hall to pay their respects. An 8-foot-tall sympathy card was full of signatures by midafternoon.

"He was an outstanding person," 81-year-old Christine Sinclair said after waiting nearly an hour in the heat to remember Jackson. "He worked for all the people, not just some of the people."

Jackson's funeral is scheduled for Saturday.

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