In 1973, Lelia Foley-Davis was elected the mayor of Taft, Oklahoma. This made her the first African American woman to be elected mayor in the United States.
“I’m 79. I was born November 2, 1941. I will be 80 in a few days, but I have a lot of work to do,” said Foley-Davis.
Born and raised in the all-black town of Taft, Oklahoma, Foley-Davis served as mayor until 1989. During that time, she would confer with three U.S. presidents.
“Everybody was playing with the dog that President Ford had running around the White House, which was a golden retriever. I said, 'President Ford, I’m Lelia Foley, the mayor of Taft, and I didn’t come to Washington to talk to you about a dog,'” she said.
That meeting would lead to rental houses being built in Taft.
“I met Jimmy Carter. I was one of 50 black mayors that was invited to the White House. In 2011, I met President Barak Obama at the Pentagon gravesite,” said Foley-Davis.
In all of her meetings, even now, Foley-Davis has one agenda.
“I just came back from New York, and everybody in New York knows about Taft, Oklahoma,” said Foley Davis. “I’m still serving in the council, and I just ran in April to serve four more years."
Foley-Davis has truly made the most of her time.
“Don’t read about me and talk about me after I’m gone. I would like for them to come by and have coffee with me now, you know,” said Foley-Davis.
Foley-Davis does speaking engagements all over the country, and even ran for the Oklahoma House of Representatives. However, in all that she has accomplished, she just wants to be remembered as a servant of the town she loves: Taft, Oklahoma.