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This Day in History – October 7, 1967

Carl Burton Stokes is elected as mayor of Cleveland, Ohio


On this day in 1967, Carl Burton Stokes, whose grandparents were born into slavery, was elected as the 51st mayor of Cleveland, Ohio.

As the first ever black person to be elected as the mayor of a prominent U.S. city, Carl Burton Stokes served as an emblem of a dynamically transitioning America. He officially took office on January 1st, 1968. He had run for office in the previous 1962 election, but lost. In the 1967 election, Mr. Stokes won out over his opponent, Seth Taft, the grandson of President William H. Taft.


Carl Stokes was born on June 2nd, 1927 in Cleveland, OH. He was a high school dropout, a World War II veteran, an American politician and a democratic diplomat. He died April 3rd, 1996 at the age of 68.

Throughout his time as Mayor, Carl Stokes made prominent advancements by providing opportunities within City Hall to blacks, and by advocating for the poor and disadvantaged population of Cleveland, OH. Carl Stokes was a strong believer that the poverty and discrimination found in American cities “threatens to strangle and destroy our entire urban civilization.”


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