|Birth: ||Mar. 6, 1882|
|Death: ||Aug. 30, 1961|
Social reformer. One of the most influential African American civic leader's in Atlanta, Georgia during the first half of the twentieth century who worked throughout his life to further the causes of black suffrage and equality. He was often called the Unofficial "Mayor" of Auburn Avenue in Atlanta and coined the term "Sweet Auburn," an expression of the area's thriving businesses and active social and civic life. Dobbs was founder of the Atlanta Civic and Polictical League, co-founder of the Atlanta Negro Voters League (1946), delegate to Republican National Convention from Georgia (1948, 1952) and grandfather of Maynard H. Jackson, Jr., the first African American mayor of Atlanta. He also was an American postal clerk. The Marietta, Georgia native grew up in poverty on a farm near Kennesaw, Georgia. Two years after his birth his mother and father seperated. His mother moved to Savannah, Georgia to work for a family, leaving Dobbs and his sister in the care of his grandparents and various other relatives. She saw her children regularly, though, and in 1891 they moved to Savannah to live with her. In Savannah Dobbs attended school full time for the first time. His formal education nearly ended after fifth grade because of his familys financial difficulties, but a white woman intervened and offered Dobbs a job that would not interfere with his schooling. While still in grammar school, he also shinned shoes and delivered newspapers to supplement the famly income. In 1897, at the age of fifteen, Dobbs moved to Atlanta, where he continued his education at Atlanta Baptist College (now Morehouse College) and worked at a drugstore. His mothers ill health forced him to drop out of school and return to Savannah to care for her. He never earned a college degree, but continued his studies independently, and passed a civil service exam that in 1903 allowed him to become a railway mail clerk for the U. S. Post Office in Atlanta. Dobbs in fact would never stop studying, reading voraciously during his spare time. He held his position at the post office, a well-respected one within the black community, for thirty-two years. In 1906 he married Irene Ophelia Thompson, with whom he had six daughters. Mattiwilda Dobbs, his fifth daughter, later became an acclaimed opera singer. Dobbs worked to instill in his children a sense of self-worth and a desire to succeed. He forbade them to attend segregated events and constantly reminded them of their equality. In 1911 Dobbs was initiated into the Prince Hall Masons, a fraternal order that attracted socially conscious leaders within the black middle class. He was later elected Grand Master of the Prince Hall Masons of Georgia (1932-1961). He spent the rest of his life in Atlanta working for racial equality. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the speakers at Dobb's funeral, and Thurgood Marshall, head of the NAACP and future Supreme Court justice, served as a pallbearer. Since his death Dobbs has been honored with an elementary school named in his honour, a moument called Through His Eyes and receiving a lasting tribute on January 10, 1994, when his grandson, then Atlanta mayor Maynard Jackson, changed the name of Houston Street, site of the Dobbs home to John Wesley Dobbs Avenue. The name change signified the role then and now that this man played in registering African American voters and nuturing black political power in Atlanta.
Irene Thompson Dobbs (1885 - 1972)*
South View Cemetery
Created by: Curtis Jackson
Record added: Dec 03, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 12599889