The Four Largest American Cities; The Four Black Mayors

Los Angeles Mayor-elect Karen Bass

The Truth Staff

When U.S. Representative Karen Bass takes the oath to be sworn in as the mayor of Los Angeles in December, the mayors of the four largest American cities will be Black. They include Eric Adams of New York, Lori Lightfoot of Chicago and Sylvester Turner of Houston. It’s an extraordinary achievement for a segment of the population which only reached the top office of a major American city 55 years ago.

The four cities are more than just huge population centers (combined 17,148,199 – 2020 census figures), they are the economic, business, cultural, trading, scientific, fashion, entertainment, athletic centers of American life.

Interestingly, the Black populations of these cities are, in the aggregate, only the third largest portion of the population, behind the White and Hispanic segments. Only in Chicago, in fact, does the Black population exceed the Hispanic population and only by a half of a percentage point.

Karen Bass, the newest member of this exclusive club and a former social worker, has served as a U.S. representative for several areas of south and west Los Angeles since 2011. A Democrat, as are they all, Bass previously served for six years in the California State Assembly, the last two years as speaker of that body. She was the first African-American woman to serve as th speaker of a state legislative body.

In Congress, she was elected chair of the Congressional Black Caucus for the 116th Congress (2019-2021). She also chairs the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations and the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.

New York Mayor Eric Adams

She won the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2010 for her leadership during the Great Recession.

Bass will be leading a city of 3.893,986 residents, of which the Black population is 8.8 percent

“The idea of having new perspectives on our planet, and actually being able to get that message out, gets me out of bed every day with a spring in my step,” said Bass.

Eric Adams, a former officer with the New York City Police Department for more than 20 years retiring at the rank of captain, served in the New York State Senate from 2006 to 2013, representing the 20th Senate district in Brooklyn. He was elected Brooklyn Borough president in 2013, re-elected in 2017, and was the first African American to hold the position.

In 2021, Adams defeated Republican Curtis Sliwa in the general election to become mayor of the Big Apple, a city of 8,804,190 residents, 23.8 percent of whom are Black.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot

As mayor, he has taken a tough-on-crime approach, reintroducing a plain-clothed unit of police officers that had been disbanded by a previous administration and has worked to increase police presence

“I’m going to make some tough choices and people are not going to agree with some of them. They are going to look through their primary lens. But generals lead from the front. I ws not elected to follow. I was not elected to be fearful, but to be fearless.”

Lori Eleane Lightfoot, a lawyer, took her oath of office in 2019 to serve as Chicago’s 56th mayor, the first Black woman to do so. Prior to that, Lightfoot worked I private legal practice as a partner at Mayer Brown and held a variety of government positions in Chicago.

She had served as president of the Chicago Police Board and chair of the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force.

Lightfoot ran for Mayor of the Windy City, a population of 2,747,231 in 2019 (29.2 percent Black) in 2019, advancing to a runoff election against Toni Preckwinkle in the February 2019 election. She defeated Preckwinkle in the runoff on April 2, 2019.

“Our children… deserve to grow up in an environment where fear is not their constant companion. And I’m determined to do everything I can to make sure every kid – in every neighborhood regardless of zip code, economic status and race or ethnicity – is able to live a life of safety.”

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner

Sylvester Turner is a lawyer who is serving as the 62nd mayor of Houston, Texas. He is the senior member of this group of four. A member of the Democratic Party, Turner was a member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1989 until 2016. He attended the University of Houston and Harvard Law School.

Turner ran for mayor of Houston in 1991, losing in the runoff election to Bob Lanier. He lost again in 2003, coming in third and thus missing the runoff.

Turner won the 2015 election, defeating Bill King in the runoff by 4,082 votes out of 212,696 votes cast in the closest mayoral election in Houston history by percentage.

On December 14, 2019, Turner won his second term as mayor over the more conservative Tony Buzbee, 56-44 percent in a turnout of less than 20 percent of registered voters.

Houston, the smallest city of the four, but also the fastest growing, has a population of 2,302,792 – 22.8 percent African American – and may well overtake Chicago for third place by the 2030 census report.

“I am honored to be one of four African American mayors leading in the nation’s largest cities. It is historical an inspirational and reflects that this country has come a long way. All over the map. African Americans are leading and when you view us collectively, it is more than one-third of the GDP[gross domestic product] of the United States. What we, as mayors, represent is not just about being Black, it is about being ready to serve in these defining moments based on qualifications, work and experiences,” said Turner.