Bright City Lights

In mayoral races, fence-mending pragmatic idealists take aim at crime, jobs and schools

The last revolution in America's city halls began in 1967 with the election of Carl Stokes as Cleveland's first black mayor. In the next two decades, hundreds of black mayors were swept into office by a tide of black pride, white-liberal optimism and the hope for an urban rebirth. As veterans of the civil-rights wars, these pioneering politicians saw themselves as crusaders for racial justice. For many voters, black and white, that was enough. As Jesse Jackson crowed after Harold Washington's 1983 triumph in Chicago, "Our time has come!"

And gone. A generation after Stokes' breakthrough, black mayors are no longer...

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