The Ultimate Champion For Black Business

In 1973 Maynard Jackson emerged on the scene when he was elected the firstblack mayor of atlanta and became a national force in business and politics over the next 30 years, he used his prowess to break the old boys network's hold on contracts and power while expanding opportunities for minority businesses. The result: he helped develop a bevy of B.E.100s companies and created more black millionaires that any other public figure.

or ethically questionable or compromised his principles. He created organizations like the National Association of Securities Professionals (NASP) or jumped into frays such as his heated battle with Clinton crony and fundraising “magician” Terry McAuliffe for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee in 2001 to give blacks — whether high-powered professionals or ordinary folk — vehicles to gain economic and political empowerment.

Jackson never missed a chance to serve as teacher and mentor. In fact, he was passionate about reaching out to young people, which led to the formation of The Maynard Jackson Youth Foundation, an organization that introduces young people to the rudiments of law, politics, and finance. Most of the foundation participants are either college-bound or have attended a university.

Jackson’s activism kept him on the road and, often, from his family. His wife, Valerie, wrote: “To be a member of Maynard Jackson’s family is to be a part of a much wider circle of sharing.…We understood that our individual needs and desires sometimes had to be subordinated to the demands of the city he loved, the nation he cherished, and a world he, in typical fashion, Maynard fashion, invited home to Atlanta, for the 1996 Olympic Games.”

In terms of Jackson’s legacy, Christopher Williams, CEO of The Williams Capital Group L.P. (No. 2 on the BE INVESTMENT BANK list with $78.54 billion in senior/co-senior managed issues), remembers his last conversation with Jackson at the June NASP conference days before Jackson’s death. (Almost prophetically, it was announced at the conference that the organization’s board had named NASP’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award after Jackson.) Williams recalls Jackson’s diatribe about “windy politicians,” people who are in a position to effect change or help shape laws but refused to exercise their power. Says Williams: “He didn’t expect people to just fold up and not fight. He found that surprising because when he was not afraid to open his mouth, he was not afraid to fight.”
– Additional Reportingby Jeffrey McKinney

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