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America’s First Black Female Mayor: Lelia Foley-Davis (1943—)

Once again, Oklahomans pioneered America into a new realm, as Lelia Foley-Davis won election in 1973 as the nation’s first African American female mayor.

The divorced, single, unemployed, 30-year-old mother of five children’s Community Action Program Director job had recently been eliminated in a budget cut. Even some supporters considered her so unlikely a public servant that they talked her out of running for a seat on the Taft school board. She refused to relinquish what she believed was God’s calling on her for service to her fellow humanity.

When Foley-Davis read of a black man winning election as mayor in Alabama, she upped the stakes and ran for mayor. She raised a campaign war chest of $200 from friends. She campaigned door to door in the town of 500. She spoke in all five churches. She won.

Naysayers from her own African American community threw shade at her from the beginning. All she possessed was a high school degree, they said. She had five children out of wedlock. She was a welfare mother.