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Monday, November 28, 2022

Black Mayors

Brakkton Booker at Politico:
When Karen Bass is sworn in as Los Angeles mayor next month, she’ll be making history in more ways than one.

Not only will she be the first woman to lead LA, Bass will complete a rare tetrafecta of sorts: Black mayors will be running the nation’s four largest cities, with the congresswoman joining Eric Adams of New York, Lori Lightfoot of Chicago and Sylvester Turner of Houston.

“Anytime we get a new mayor, it’s exciting,” Frank Scott, the Democratic mayor of Little Rock, Ark., said in a phone interview. “But to have another mayor, a Black woman, who’s going to lead one of our nation’s major cities? That’s a big deal.”

This marks the first time these major metropolises will simultaneously be led by African Americans — and it may be for just a brief period. The leadership acumen of big city mayors is being tested now in how they address issues ranging from upticks in crime, to a sagging economy and high inflation, to housing affordability and homelessness.

And this is all taking place as the cities undergo seismic demographic shifts. All four are “majority minority” cities and these Black mayors are governing municipalities where Latinos, not Black residents, make up the largest non-white ethnic group.

Hispanics accounted for more than half of the growth in the U.S. population, according to the 2020 Census. Meanwhile, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and other big cities have seen their Black populations shrink in recent years in something of a reversal of what happened in the 1970s. These new migration patterns are altering political dynamics as Latinos consolidate power.