An Ala. Town’s First Elected Black Mayor Was Locked Out of Office By His White Predecessor

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Screenshot: ABC News

Patrick Braxton has been waiting years for this moment. In 2020, he won the election to become the mayor of Newbern, a small town located just outside of Alabama with a population of 133. He would be the first Black person elected to that position in the town’s history.

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Even though he was sworn in as mayor shortly after his win, the previous mayor, Haywood Stokes III, a white man, denied him full access to the office and the city council.

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According to CNN, when Braxton figured there was nothing he could do to help himself, he and the four residents he planned on appointing to the city council filed an amended complaint with the help of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund to force the town to recognize Braxton as mayor.

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Last week, they finally reached a settlement.

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Although “a factual dispute exists regarding who has lawful authority to serve as mayor and town councilmembers,” according to the settlement, signed June 21, the parties now agree “Braxton is the lawful mayor of Newbern, and he shall hold all the powers, privileges, duties … entrusted to the mayor of Newbern under Alabama state law.”

The settlement does not require that the defendants admit to any wrongdoing and specifically notes that they “deny having engaged in any wrongful practice, or other unlawful conduct.”

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The settlement also states that the town of Newbern will pay the attorney fees for Braxton and the other plaintiffs.

After being unable to carry out his rightful duty as mayor of Newbern for the past four years, Braxton will now finally be able to submit the names he wants to be appointed to the city council.

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Per the report from CNN, he still is responsible for organizing the mayoral elections next year.