Unita Blackwell

Headshot of Unita Blackwell

Unita Blackwell is a civil rights activist who was the first African American woman to be elected mayor in the state of Mississippi. Blackwell, who served as mayor of Mayersville, Mississippi from 1976 to 2001, was also the president of the National Conference of Black Mayors in 1990. Born to sharecropper parents in the Mississippi Delta, she was a founding member of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and a friend to the late Fannie Lou Hamer. Blackwell was later a project director for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee which helped organize voter drives to encourage African American voting across Mississippi. Blackwell’s activism in housing and other rural issues helped promote the idea of “maximum participation of the poor” in the federal War on Poverty. Interviewed by Robert Korstad, Kevin D. Gorter Professor of Public Policy and History, and Neil Boothby, Professor of Public Policy, October 23, 1992 Note: The transcript below is not synchronized with the video.

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