Florida A&M University (FAMU) alumni are taking the helms of four cities in 2018. FAMU alumna Keisha Lance Bottoms was inaugurated on January 2 as the 60th mayor of Atlanta.
On December 30, Deana Holiday Ingraham was inaugurated as the 34th mayor of East Point, Georgia near Atlanta.
FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., attended both inaugural events and will also attend and serve as the keynote speaker at Rattler Booker T. Gainor’s January 13 inaugural gala as the first Black mayor of Cairo, Georgia.
“Having these leaders in the mayor’s seat is proof that our graduates can reach any career goal, any place in the world as a result of a FAMU education,” said Robinson. “I am proud of our Rattlers on the move and honored to witness the results of years of preparation and hard work.”
Bottoms is the second Black woman to be elected as mayor of Atlanta and received about 700 more votes than her opponent Mary Norwood according to the Associated Press.
For almost eight years, Bottoms has represented a large portion of the historic Southwest Atlanta community as a member of the Atlanta City Council. During her inaugural speech, she stressed the importance of making the area’s renowned concentration of HBCUs “meaningful partners” in the transformation of the city’s west side and acknowledged her alma mater during a lighter moment that garnered applause.
“I also want to take a moment here to point out – Mayor (Kasim) Reed and Ambassador (Andrew) Young – that as a graduate of Florida A&M University, I am the first Atlanta mayor who is an HBCU graduate who did not attend Morehouse or Howard University,” said Bottoms. “I am very proud to say the streak has been broken.”
Bottoms is a graduate of the FAMU School of Journalism & Graphic Communication.
In St. Paul, Minnesota, Melvin Carter also took the oath of office on January 2 and became the youngest and first Black mayor of the city. The former city commissioner earned more than 50 percent of the votes in a crowded mayoral race. The candidate who finished second, Pat Harris, received a little more than 24 percent of the votes.
During his inaugural address at his high school alma mater, Carter said he was humbled to serve a city where his grandparents fled to 100 years ago, leaving behind the “violence” of the Deep South.
“Right now is an exciting time for St. Paul. We have more places than ever to enjoy art and music and eat a great meal,” said Carter. “We have big development opportunities ahead, and our population will soon reach an all time high. St. Paul is a city with momentum, but we are also a city of deep inequity and I live that too.“
He added, “We have work to do to fulfill St. Paul’s promise for every person in every part of our city. That work will center around three pillars: public safety, education and economic justice.”
Carter earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from FAMU.
After serving as Ward D At-Large Councilmember in East Point, Ingraham found her place of leadership as mayor. She earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting and business administration from FAMU with a double minor in criminal justice and psychology.
During her inaugural speech she thanked President Robinson and his wife, Sharon Robinson for attending the ceremony along with hundreds of supporters.
“My journey to mayor was challenging but with each door I knocked on and each resident I spoke with, the journey birthed relationships and garnered a familiarity that made me feel blessed to experience a true sense of community,” said Ingraham. “The journey was long but informative every step of the way. I learned that the desire and commitment to continue progress together in this city is oh so real.”
About 225 miles south in Cairo, Gainor was elected as mayor with 57 percent of the votes defeating Hansell Bearden. In an interview with Roland Martin, Gainor noted that after graduating from FAMU, he invested time into his community and found his motivation for change and a desire to become mayor.
Gainor took to Twitter after his win, stating “This is not a win for Booker T. Gainor. It is a win for the CITIZENS of Cairo, Georgia. I am so humbled to represent you, the wonderful citizens of my beloved Cairo, as Mayor. The goal was to unify the city, and that is what happened last night. #Unity.”
He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration/marketing from FAMU.
There are many more Rattlers across the country in elected and mayoral positions such as Andrew Gillum, mayor of Tallahassee; Oliver G. Gilbert III, mayor of Miami Gardens; and Smith Joseph, mayor of North Miami.
FAMU continues to produce some of the top government leaders, policy changers and innovators in the world.