If last night’s elections are any indicator of what is possible in the 2018 mid-terms, there will be even more to celebrate in a year’s time. Not only did the states of New Jersey and Virginia vote in the Democratic candidates for governor (Philip Murphy and Ralph Northam, respectively), each state also elected their first and second African-American lieutenant governors, Sheila Oliver and Justin Fairfax. Fairfax is the first African American elected to statewide office in Virginia in 25 years. Read more about the victories and histories of both by clicking their names above.
Two major U.S. cities also voted in mayors of color yesterday: Melvin Carter became the first black mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota, and Vi Lyles was elected Charlotte, NC’s first African-American female mayor.
Additionally, Andrea Jenkins, who became the first openly trans woman of color elected to the city council of a major U.S. city, will represent Ward 8 of Minneapolis. To read the Washington Post feature on her, click here.
Another big city council seat win came from Mazahir Salih, the first immigrant to do so in Iowa City. Salih moved to the US from Sudan in 1997 and you can read more about her win here.
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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Ras Baraka, son of late poet and activist Amiri Baraka, declared victory Tuesday in the race to succeed Democratic U.S. Sen. Cory Booker as mayor of the state’s largest city. Baraka, who served on Newark’s City Council, was a staunch critic of Booker, who stepped down last year to run for the Senate. He declared victory with nearly all districts counted and with a 54 percent to 46 percent lead over former State Assistant Attorney General Shavar Jeffries.
Baraka inherits a fiscal crisis that has left Newark in danger of being subject to state monitoring. His supporters held a raucous celebration at a downtown hotel after he announced his victory.
Speaking to the crowd, Baraka wished his mother a happy Mother’s Day and said he knew his father, who died in January, was “in the room tonight.” He urged the crowd to “be the mayor” and work for positive change, a reference to one of his campaign slogans, “When I become mayor, we become mayor.”
“We have a great city, an international city,” he said. “Watch out, America, here comes Newark!”
Former Ward 2 Councilman and civil rights activist Chokwe Lumumba, 65, is the new mayor of Jackson, Miss., winning the general election on Tuesday with 87 percent of the vote, reports Fight Back! News.
He will succeed Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr., who finished third in this year’s Democratic primary. Lumumba ran as a mainstream candidate who would represent all city voters. He defeated businessman Jonathan Lee in the Democratic primary runoff last month.
Lumumba spent part of the ’70s and ’80s as vice-president of the Republic of New Afrika, an organization which advocated for “an independent predominantly black government” in the southeastern United States and reparations for slavery. He wrote on Facebook Tuesday night, “Thank you, Jackson. None of this would be possible without faith and your support.” He went on to say, “This is the people’s victory. Together we will make Jackson rise!”
On May 29, 1973, Tom Bradley became the first African-American elected mayor of Los Angeles. In that election, he defeated incumbent Sam Yorty with 56 percent of the vote. The win was considered trailblazing by historians, taking into account the city’s largely white population at the time.
Bradley served in office from 1973 to 1993, giving him the longest tenure as mayor in the city’s history before term limits were passed by voters in 1990. He ran for governor in 1982 and 1986, but was defeated each time by George Deukmejian. His loss in 1982 gave birth to the term “the Bradley effect” in U.S. politics, underlining the inconsistencies between voter opinion polls and actual election outcomes when a white candidate runs against a minority. Bradley retired from political life in 1993.
In March 1996, he suffered a heart attack and later a stroke that left him paralyzed and unable to speak. He suffered a second heart attack and passed away on Sept. 29, 1998 at the age of 80.