John Wesley Dobbs

John Wesley Dobbs

John Wesley Dobbs (December 3, 1882 - August 21, 1961) was considered the unofficial 'mayor' of Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, GA, and the African-American counterpart to Mayor William B. Hartsfield.

Dobbs was educated at Atlanta Baptist College - which later became Morehouse College. After completing college, Dobbs passed a civil service exam and became a railway mail clerk in 1903. He was a great familyman for his wife and six daughters. With educational background and his job at the postal service, he was a member of Atlanta's rising African-American middle class. All of Dobbs' daughters graduated from Spelman College and one daughter, Mattiwilda Dobbs, became a notable opera singer.

Dobbs became a member of the Prince Hall Masons in 1911. In 1932, he was elected Grand Master of the Prince Hall Masons (a post he held for the rest of his life) which solidified his role as a leader for Atlanta's African-Americans. Dobbs fought hard for voting rights. He founded the Atlanta Civic and Political League, and later along with A. T. Walden, Dobbs co-founded the Atlanta Negro Voters League.

Dobbs worked hard with Atlanta mayor William B. Hartsfield to hire more African Americans for city jobs (like police officers) and to get better city services for the African-American communities.

John Wesley Dobbs died on August 21, 1961, the same day the Atlanta city schools desegregated and his family home still stands at 540 John Wesley Dobbs (one block west of Randolph). His daughter Irene was future Atlanta mayor Maynard Jackson's mother.


*" [ John Wesley Dobbs] " The New Georgia Encyclopedia.
*Pomerantz, Gary M., "Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn: The Saga of Two Families and the Making of Atlanta", Scribner (May 6, 1996).

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