After serving as a pillar in her community as well as being the first black woman to be elected mayor in Mississippi, Unita Blackwell dies at 86 years old.
What We Know:
- In 1976, Unita Blackwell was elected mayor in Mayersville, Mississippi. She was the first black woman to be elected, and served from 1976-1993, and again from 1997-2001. She was elected after actively helping Mayersville win it’s charter.
- Blackwell came from humble beginnings. She was born in impoverished Mississippi and dropped out of school at age 12 to go do farm labor. Her life’s work focused on getting black people registered to vote. In the 1986 documentary Eyes on the Prize, Blackwell said, “I was only told when I started off that if I registered to vote that I would food to eat and a better house to stay in…I would have, my child would have, a better education.”
- Blackwell made many strides in her life besides being the first black female mayor. She protested the seating of Mississippi’s all-white Democratic Party at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. She was a veteran of the civil rights movement and a recipient of the MacArthur “genius” grant. She received the grant in 1992 for her work on housing and water services. The grant was $350,000.
According to Blackwell’s son, she died on Monday. There has yet to be a report of any services for Ms. Blackwell, but her life and legacy will indeed live on.