50 years ago Reverend Dr. Samuel Austin, a Grace Baptist Church Pastor became the first African-American to run for Mayor.
It was another 32 years until Kingston, Jamaica-born, Ronald A. Blackwood broke the color barrier and became the first Black mayor of the city of Mount Vernon, New York, as well as the state of New York or the matter.
16 years later, Richard W. Thomas, the youngest elected MV City Councilman would be elected as the youngest Mayor in Mt. Vernon.
Former Mayor Blackwood passed away, Wednesday, Feb 22nd, but his rich legacy in the City of Mount Vernon, Westchester County and the State of New York forever lives on. Mayor Richard W. Thomas issued a statement Wednesday evening on the passing on Former Mayor Ronald Blackwood:
The entire City of Mount Vernon is in mourning tonight at the loss of Mayor Ronald Blackwood. Mayor Blackwood served this city with distinction and honor. He broke barriers and built bridges to the future showing how an immigrant can truly live the American Dream. He was the first African-American mayor in New York State when he was elected in 1985.
He was an example of what a public servant should be. You could always find him walking up and down the streets, connecting with residents, responding to their wants and needs. He was truly a man of the people. When he spoke to you, he made you feel as if you were the center of the universe. He was a leader, not a politician, a man who worked with grace and grit.
Born in Jamaica, Mayor Blackwood spoke often about the ”obstacles, disappointments and frustrations” he experienced as he made his way to New York and Westchester County. But he persevered, making himself an example for young men and women. Everyone knows that his love for this city knew no bounds.
As Mayor, he was dedicated to fighting for the people of Mount Vernon. He promoted job opportunities, affordable housing, and crime-fighting measures. Prior to becoming Mayor, Blackwood was a member of the Westchester County Board of Supervisors and City Councilman for over fifteen years. Mount Vernon will continue to remember his legacy of leadership and thank him and his family for their dedication to the city.
– Mayor Richard Thomas