EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – Darrell Davis is now the first black man to hold the office of Mayor in Edmond.
Some say it’s a move a century in the making.
Once a sundown town, Edmond now has voted in its first African American mayor.
“I feel great the city is still welcoming of me and that’s what brought me here over 32 years ago,” said Darrell Davis.
The former city councilman won his election Tuesday night and will become the first black mayor in Edmond history.
“We need to always embrace it. We don’t need to hide it and we need to look for opportunities to learn from that,” said Davis, referring to Edmond’s record on race relations.
African Americans helped settle the town in the late 1800 but…
“Between about 1920 and 1970, black people were not living here. It was even called a 100% white town,” said Amy Stephens of the Edmond Historical Society and Museum.
Edmond also referred to as a sundown town.
“If you are African American, you are not allowed in our town after dark, but during the day they would come and work,” said Stephens.
But the tides started to turn in the 1950s when black students were first admitted to what is now the University of Central Oklahoma.
“It was only through UCO that African Americans were able to come to Edmond after 1920,” said Chris Lehman.
Lehman, an Edmond native, is a Professor of Ethnic Studies and the son of Paul Lehman, the first black professor at UCO in 1969.
Paul had to commute from Oklahoma City until the family was finally able to get a home in Edmond in 1976.
He says the city has come a long way since the 20s.
“I’m very proud, this is certainly a long time in coming. To see an African American be the mayor a whole century later its remarkable,” said Lehman.
As for Davis, the retired Tinker employee wants to be a role model.
“For me to become the first black mayor in Edmond, it’s just a wonderful feeling. With Edmond and its previous past, this will show people in the future that you still have an opportunity in this town to succeed, and I want to be that example for everyone,” said Davis.
Davis says he wants to promote all Edmondites being involved in local government. He say he wants people be proactive not reactive.
The Edmond Historical Society just launched an Edmond Black History online exhibit.