It’s been a long road to equality for African-Americans, and the journey continues today. As we push toward fair treatment, battle social justice issues and prepare our children for a world that may treat them differently for reasons beyond their control, there are still times we should look back at how far we have come – if for no other reason than to inspire us to keep marching forward.
With another political year nearing its end today, we will highlight the black women who have sat in the mayor’s office in their respective communities. It’s incredible to think that until 1920 women did not have the right to vote (and for all blacks, the actual ability to cast a vote without fear of discrimination or violence did not take place until the Voting Rights Act of 1965).
“I’d rather go down fighting, than stand as a loser.” – Keisha Lance Bottoms
Lelia Foley: First Black Woman To Become Mayor in U.S. History
In 1973, Lelia Foley, a single mother of five, attempted to join the school board of Taft, Oklahoma. Despite losing the election, she aimed even higher: the mayor’s office. Taft raised $200 from supporters and was elected mayor later that year. Also, in 1973, another black woman, Doris A. Davis, was elected mayor of Compton, California.
Lori Lightfoot: First Black Mayor Of Chicago
Social media favorite Lori Lightfoot has become a celebrity in her own right outside of the city in which she presides. But more important than her viral moments is that in 2019, voters elected the former federal prosecutor to become their next mayor, making Chicago the largest city to elect an African-American woman as its top elected official.
Shirley Franklin: First Black Female Mayor Of Atlanta
In 2001, the citizens of Atlanta elected Shirley Franklin, a first-time candidate for public office, to serve as the 58th Mayor of the City of Atlanta. Franklin also made history by becoming the first African-American woman to serve as mayor of a major southern city. In 2005, Franklin became the recipient of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.
Keisha Lance Bottoms: Established Atlanta’s First LGBTQ Affairs Report
In 2018 Bottoms created Atlanta’s first LGBTQ advisory board: The “Biennial Report of LGBTQ Affairs” focused on critical policies, programs and initiatives of the Bottoms Administration, specifically aimed at improving the lives of Atlanta’s LGBTQ residents.
On this day in Black History Month, we salute these women who have served their communities in the role of mayor.