Oklahoma city once advertised as ‘100% white’ elects first Black mayor

Black people helped settle the town of Edmond in the 19th century but were then excluded for decades. Now Darrell Davis will lead it.

Video Transcript

BRENT SKARKY: Well, history has been made here in Edmond. Once a sundown town, now the first African-American has been voted in as mayor.

DARRELL DAVIS: I feel great. The city's is still welcoming of me, and that's what brought me here over 32 years ago.

BRENT SKARKY: Former City Councilman Darrell Davis wins his election Tuesday night and will become the first black mayor in Edmond history.

DARRELL DAVIS: We need to always embrace it. We don't need to hide it. And we need to look for opportunities to learn from that.

BRENT SKARKY: Davis referring to Edmond's record on race relations. African-Americans helped settle the town in the late 1800s but--

AMY STEPHENS: Between about 1920 and 1970, black people were not living here. It was even called a 100% white town.

BRENT SKARKY: Edmond also referred to as a sundown town.

AMY STEPHENS: If you are African-American, you are not allowed in our town after dark. But, during the day, they would come and work.

BRENT SKARKY: But the tide started to turn in the 1950s when black students were first admitted to what is now the University of Central Oklahoma.

CHRIS LEHMAN: It was only through UCO that African-Americans were able to come to Edmond after 1920.

BRENT SKARKY: Chris Lehman is the son of Paul Lehman, the first black professor at UCO in 1969. His dad had to commute from Oklahoma City. The family finally able to get a home in Edmond in 1976. He says the city has come a long way since the 1920s.

CHRIS LEHMAN: I'm very proud. This is certainly a long time in coming. I mean, to see someone African-American to be the mayor of that same city a whole century later, it's-- it's remarkable.

BRENT SKARKY: As for Davis, the retired Tinker employee wants to be a role model.

DARRELL DAVIS: For me to become the first black mayor in Edmond, it's just a wonderful feeling. With Edmond and their 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 everybody.