On speaking of his progress at the G-20 Summit in Seoul, South Korea, President Obama said, “Instead of hitting a homerun, sometimes we’re going to hit singles, but they’re really important singles.” The same sentiment can be applied to the surprisingly quiet inroads African Americans have made in small towns across the United States.
William Sheckles became the first African American mayor of Bardstown, Kentucky in November, 2010. Sheckles’ win is significant because he is the only African American ever to win an elected seat in Nelson County history. In Kentucky, black politicians tend to win elections only after serving an appointed term. Sheckles is a life long resident of Bardstown, long-time business owner and a Western Kentucky University graduate, who served on the Bardstown City Council for 12 years prior to running for mayor. The fact that Bardstown is one of the oldest cities in Kentucky and an early center of Catholicism west of Appalachia and home to a majority white constituency, Sheckles’ win is a testament to shifting attitudes in American politics.
In 2010, Ludmya “Mia” B. Love became the first elected African American mayor in Utah. Love won the Saratoga Springs mayoral election bid over her challenger in a vote of 861 to 594. Love, who is the daughter of Haitian immigrants, was born in New York City and graduated from the University of Hartford in Connecticut. Love served on the Saratoga Springs City Council and has said in local media reports that she did not think race played a factor in the election. But considering the most recent census figures say the population of Sarotoga Springs is 95 percent White and 0.6 percent Black, Love’s history making win may qualify as an important “single” hit in America’s political scene. Love has said she considers it a positive if her win changes peoples’ attitudes about Utah and Saratoga Springs.