Former Mount Vernon Mayor Ronald Blackwood, the first African-American mayor in New York State, died Wednesday.
According to a statement from current Mayor Richard Thomas, Blackwood, 90, served the city with “distinction and honor” for more than a decade.
“He was truly a man of the people,” Thomas said. “When he spoke to you, he made you feel as if you were the center of the universe. He was a leader, not a politician, a man who worked with grace and grit.”
Born in Jamaica, Blackwood was elected mayor of Mount Vernon in 1985, according to Thomas, who said that he worked constantly to promote job opportunities, affordable housing and crime-fighting measures across the city.
Before serving as mayor, Blackwood was a member of the Westchester County Board of Supervisors and a Mount Vernon City Councilman, Thomas said.
“Mount Vernon will continue to remember (Blackwood’s) legacy of leadership and thank him and his family for their dedication to the city,” Thomas said.