Black Mayors

Newark, NJ mayor Ras J. Baraka is also the son of famous poet and activist Amiri Baraka

The year 2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the election of the first black mayor of a big U.S city. In 1967, Carl Stokes was elected mayor of Cleveland and Richard Hatcher was elected mayor of Gary, IN. The following year Kenneth Gibson was elected mayor of Newark in 1970. Of the 100 largest cities in the country, 39 have had elected black mayors. In 2018, 57.1% of black mayors served in cities (over 40,000) that did not have a black majority population.

By 2018, that number has dropped to 40.6%. Perhaps the introduction and prevalence of the Black mayor has helped America become more comfortable with Black politicians in positions of major leadership. In 2018 there were about 32 Black Mayors of cities with populations of more than 40,000 according to our estimates (need confirmation).

Two of America’s newest cities are majority Black (89% or more) and located in Suburban Atlanta. They are made up of formerly unincorporated Black communities many of which are middle-class ho decided to take local control of their own fate from the county governments who governed them. The city of Stonecreast for example is 93% Black and has a median income above $60,000 annually. 

Black Mayors of Cities with 40,000-plus Population

Majority Black Cities Mayor Name % Black  City Population 
Baltimore, MD  Catherine E. Pugh 63.0% 611,648
Atlanta, GA   Keisha Lance Bottoms 52.4% 486,290
Newark, NJ   Ras J. Baraka 50.2% 285,154
Baton Rouge, LA Sharon Weston Broome 55.2% 225,374
Birmingham, AL   Randall L. Woodfin 73.4% 210,710
Shreveport, LA   Ollie Tyler 56.3% 192,036
Jackson, MS  Chokwe Antar Lumumba 85.6% 166,965
Miami Gardens, FL  Oliver G. Gilbert III 73.3% 113,750
Flint, MI Karen Weaver 54.30% 96,448
South Fulton, GA William “Bill” Edwards 89.50% 95,158
Gary, IN Karen Freeman-Wilson 84.8% 80,294
Albany, GA   Mayor Dorothy Hubbard 72.3% 73,179
Mt. Vernon, NY  Richard Thomas 65.0% 68,703
East Orange, NJ   Ted R. Green 88.6% 64,270
Irvington, NJ  Tony Vauss 86.5% 54,865
Stonecrest, GA Jason Lary, Sr. 93.70% 54,471
DeSoto, TX Curtistene Smith McCowan 69.7% 53,568
Monroe, LA  James Mayo 63.9% 48,371
Pine Bluff, AR  Shirley Washington 76.6% 42,984
Population figures from 2017 US Census

Black Mayors of non-Black Majority Cities

Non-Majority Black Cities Mayor Name % Black City Population
Charlotte, NC Vi Alexander Lyles 31.1% 859,035
Washington, DC   Muriel Bowser 48.3% 693,972
St. Paul, MN Melvin Carter 15.7% 306,621
Plano, TX Harry LaRosiliere 8.0% 286,143
Buffalo, NY  Byron W. Brown 37.3% 258,612
Norfolk, VA Kenneth Alexander 42.2% 244,703
Richmond, VA   Levar Stoney 48.3% 227,032
Rochester, NY Lovely Ann Warren 40.9% 208,046
Tallahassee, FL Andrew Gillum 35.3% 191,049
Columbia, SC Stephen K. Benjamin 41.1% 133,114
Inglewood, CA   James T. Butts 42.9% 110,598
Compton, CA   Aja Brown 31.1% 97,612
Youngstown, OH   Jamael Tito Brown 43.7% 64,604
Population figures from 2017 US Census
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