EDMOND—Darrell Davis was elected mayor of Edmond in Tuesday’s election, becoming the first Black to hold the position.
Some have said his election was a full century in the making.
Mr. Davis defeated home-builder Nathan Walters for the position.
He will be sworn-in on May 3.
Once a “sundown town,” Edmond now has made history with Mr. Davis’ election. (“Sundown towns” required Blacks not to be seen on the town’s streets after sundown.)
“I feel great the city is still welcoming of me and that’s what brought me here over 32 years ago,” the newly-elected mayor said Tuesday night.
“We need to always embrace it,” he went on, referring to Edmond’s race relations. “ We don’t need to hide it and we need to look for opportunities to learn from that.”
Ironically enough, Blacks helped settle the town in the late 1800’s.
“But between about 1920 and 1970, Blacks were not living here,” explained Amy Stephens of the Edmond Historical Society & Museum.
“Edmond was even called a 100 percent white town
Between about 1920 and 1970, black people were not living here. It was even called a 100% white town.”
She added another piece of history regarding Edmond’s “sundown town” history.
“If you were Black here in Edmond, you were not allowed in town after dark, but Blacks were welcome during the day to work here,” she said.
But the tides started to turn in the 1950’s when Black students were first admitted to what is now the University of Central Oklahoma.
“It was only through UCO that Blackswere able to come to Edmond,” said Chris Lehman.
Paul Lehman had to commute from Oklahoma City until his family could get an Edmond home in 1976.
Edmond has come a long way since the 1920’s, Prof. Chris Lehman commented.
“I’m very proud. This is certainly a long time in coming,” Chris Lehman remarked. “To see an African-American become the mayor after a century is remarkable.”
As for as newly-elected mayor Davis is concerned, he wants now to be a role model.
Mr. Davis is a retired worker at Tinker U.S. Air Force Base.
“For me to become the first Black mayor in Edmond, it’s just a wonderful feeling,” he said.
“With Edmond and its previous past, this will show people in the future that you still have an opportunity in this town to succeed.
“I want to be that example for everyone.”
Mr. Davis said he wants to promote all residents to become involved in local government.