DENVER — The start of February means the start of Black History month. For the next four weeks Fox 31 and Channel 2 will put a spotlight on Denver’s black history. We’ll talk to different leaders and members in the community about the contributions African Americans made to the city of Denver.
The series kicks off with an interview with Denver’s former Mayor Wellington Webb and the current mayor Michael Hancock.
The two leaders both went to Manual High School and grew up in the surrounding neighborhood.
“I grew up on 32nd avenue and Williams, Wilma grew up on 23rd and Williams,” Mayor Wellington Webb said.
Wellington Webb is Denver’s first black mayor. He won his first mayoral election in 1991.
Webb said, “For some members of my family to me, getting elected was as much about their journey, and what they had to go through as it was for me.”
It was a journey, Webb’s campaign ran out of money and he walked the city for days to continue his efforts.
“Being first, it has privileges, but it also has some arrows with it,” Webb said.
During Webb’s time in office, he finished the airport started by Mayor Federico Pena, made a point to focus on the city’s downtown area, built the Blair Caldwell African American Research Library, and made an effort to get more job opportunities for minorities.
Before his time as mayor, Webb was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives and served as the Denver city auditor.
“When we came in, we also knew we had a lot on our plate to deal with,” Webb said.
A few years after Webb’s time as mayor he endorsed a younger politician. Someone he knew from the neighborhood, someone he took under his wing, and someone he calls a friend.
“I’m elected because of Mayor Webb,” Denver’s Mayor, Michael Hancock said.
Michael Hancock is Denver’s second African American mayor.
“One of the most powerful things that he ever told me, and others confirmed it, he said I’m not leaving that young man out there by himself,” Hancock said. “It meant the world to me, even to this day, it still sends chills down my spine.”
The two mayors admit growing up in a black household with black women at the forefront no doubt shames the way you govern.
Hancock said, “When I see the challenges that maybe an African American man, or young men face, thats me thats my son, I feel that.”
“I used to tell some of my critics, that my ethnic politics is in my heart and I’m going to make sure everyone is treated fairly,” Webb said.
At the end of the day, both mayors will also say it doesn’t matter what color you are, they both took an oath to serve all people.
“I represent the white kid down the street, I represent the African American kid down street, the Asian kid,” Hancock said.
A vision for an all-inclusive, vibrant, bustling city is something Mayor Webb grew during his time as mayor and something Mayor Hancock continues. Webb says he proud of what Hancock is doing.
When asked if there’s one piece of black history the two mayors think the city should know, both said all of the history. There is a place that holds a lot of Denver’s black history. We’ll introduce you to the Blair Caldwell African American Research Library in next week’s Black History Highlight.