A Missouri town just elected the first black, female mayor, but we've gotta talk about the aftermath
In the last year, Ferguson, Missouri has become a hotbed of racial tension between the death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown, the non-fatal shooting of two police officers, and a damning report from the Department of Justice, which criticized the city for its “unlawful bias against and stereotypes about African-Americans,” leading to the resignation of several key officials. But as it turns out, the rampant discrimination faced by those living in Ferguson is hardly unique to their city — just three hours south, the city of Parma is having its own highly-controversial moment.
According to KFVS12, five of the small town’s six police officers as well as its clerk, supervisor of water treatment, and attorney have resigned in apparent protest of the recent election of Tyrus Byrd, Parma’s first black, female mayor. Byrd previously served as a city clerk. At press time, no official resignation letters could be found, but according to outgoing mayor Randall Ramsey, who served Parma for 37 years and happens to be white, the officers departed over “safety concerns.”
Meanwhile, residents of the nearly 800-person town — which is 57% white, 42% black, and 1% other races — aren’t losing much sleep over the string of resignations, citing both Parma’s shrinking population and its poor economic outlook as matters of more pressing concern. And for her part, Mayor Byrd is declining to speak about the matter until she meets with the Parma’s city council. She is stepping into her mayoral duties and diving into work instead:
Hopefully, her election is a sign of better things — and fewer small-minded people — to come. Three hours north, Ferguson has already shifted its focus toward healing the wounds suffered in the last eight months, with residents recently tripling the number of black representatives on its own six-person city council. Let’s hope Parma chooses to focus on healing, instead of hate, as well.