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On October 11, 2017, former mayor of Tallahassee, Florida James R. Ford passed away at the age of 91.

In 1972, Ford made a historic victory by becoming the first African American mayor elected in the Leon County since Reconstruction.

He was re-elected three times, served two additional terms as an appointed mayor and served 14 years on the city commission making it, “the third longest tenure in city commission history.”

Ford was a trailblazer as 9 Black men ran for the position before him, He made history in 1972 when he was elected. Even after his election, he was paving the way for other Black politicians to get elected.

According to, since Ford’s election seven Black politicians have been elected to the city commission, six of them have been elected to the county commission and about a dozen were elected to positions like a sheriff, tax collector, city manager and many other positions.

A native of Tallahassee, Ford attended Florida A&M University and worked for 37 years as a teacher before becoming mayor.

He is survived by his wife, son and two daughters.

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(Photo Credit: YouTube