Birmingham, AL, Mayor Richard Arrington Steps Down After 20 Years

Birmingham, AL, Mayor Richard Arrington Steps Down After 20 Years – Brief Article

Richard Arrington, who in 1979 made history in Birmingham, AL, when he became the first Black to be elected mayor, recently stepped down with three months left in his fifth term.

Mayoral candidate and City Council President William Bell, also Black, will become interim mayor while he campaigns to replace Arrington–with the mayor’s backing–in the Oct. 12 election.

Arrington says he’s leaving early because he’s done all he can do in office and wants to finish a book.

Arrington, who earned his Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma, previously served as a professor of biology and academic dean at Miles College in the city and a member of the Birmingham City Council.

In reviewing his accomplishments as the city’s chief executive, he boasts of Birmingham’s expanded tax base, of bank towers and sprawling hospitals that have replaced steel mills at the heart of the city’s economy.

The city has a population of nearly 253,000 and is about 70 percent Black.

As the mayor of Birmingham for two decades, Arrington kept a lid on the kind of racial violence that plagued the city in the 1960s when Black demonstrators were met with fire hoses and snarling police dogs.

Though he admits that he will likely be remembered as the first Black mayor of a city once rocked by racial violence, Arrington says, “I’m comfortable with that.

“My being elected to office was very important to the city. It made all our citizens feel a part of it.”

COPYRIGHT 1999 Johnson Publishing Co.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group