Graham W. Jackson
Originally from Virginia, Graham W. Jackson, a musical prodigy who showed an ability to master every instrument, eventually made his way to Atlanta by attending Morehouse College, and later, Atlanta University. Staying in Atlanta, from 1928 to 1940 he served as the musical director at Booker T. Washington High School. His home was located across the street and still stands today.
He became a close friend of the Roosevelt Family, performing for them many times, and was present at Warm Springs when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed away on April 12, 1945. Just the previous day, the two had been collaborating on a version of Czech composer Antonín Dvořák’s “Goin’ Home”. Jackson later even remodeled his Washington Park home to look like Roosevelt’s Little White House in Warm Springs. Jackson played his accordion during the procession of Roosevelt’s body out of Warm Springs. Ed Clark, a photographer for Life magazine, was present at the procession and snapped a photograph of Jackson playing, which catapulted Jackson to fame.
Jackson would go on to play for other U.S. Presidents, including Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Carter. As Governor of Georgia Jimmy Carter named Jackson as the official state musician of Georgia. From time to time, Jackson made appearances at the Atlanta Fox Theatre playing on their theater organ, the second largest in the country. In 1985, Jackson was inducted posthumously into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.