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Community Advocacy Organization

The 18-year-old who made history as the youngest Black mayor in the country

This month, we look back on those who have come before us to pave the way: history makers and world changers. We also highlight those currently making history. This is the case for a mayor in one small Arkansas town.

An 18-year-old college freshman is now the youngest Black mayor in U.S. history.

Jaylen Smith, a recent high school graduate, said although he was “confident” he’d win the runoff election in December, he was still shocked when he received news of the victory.

He will now be the mayor of Earle, a town of just under 2,000 people, according to 2020 census data, near Memphis, Tennessee. 

Smith received 218 votes while his opponent, Nemi Matthews Sr., won 139, according to The Hill. Smith said he decided to run for mayor at the start of his senior year, with the encouragement of his fellow student government association members.

He said he fully understands the historic significance of his win. “It feels awesome. Generations and generations of people will read about this historical moment,” he said.


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