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The Legacy of Penfield Tate II – Boulder’s only African American Mayor

Posted: February 7, 2017 at 11:36 am by , in Breaking News, Featured

“He believed in multi-cultural, pluralistic society.”

Penfield Tate II was elected to the Boulder City Council in 1971. In 1974, his fellow council members chose him to become Mayor of Boulder, where he served until 1976. He remains Boulder’s only African-American mayor.

Tate’s son, Penfield Tate III, spoke with KGNU’s Maeve Conran about Boulder and his father’s legacy ahead of a talk at Chautauqua Auditorium on February 9th.

Tate II was a humanitarian who advocated for equality for all. He drew criticism after strongly supporting an amendment to the Human Rights Ordinance protecting people from discrimination based on sexual orientation. A recall election was held as a result of his stance. While he survived the recall, Tate III says the political climate changed for his father. His family started receiving hate mail and had negative slurs thrown at them. He was never re-elected as mayor.

Tate III says his father would be proud of the steps Boulder has taken to be more inclusive, but would be honest about the work that still needs to be done.

“He would be proud of the sanctuary city declaration. My father very much believed in the promise of America reflected in the Statue of Liberty about “bringing me your tired and your downtrodden”. He believed in multi-cultural, pluralistic society, so he would have welcomed the sanctuary city, determination and designation by the city. He would have been brutally frank that the city is still not as diverse as it needs to be, and in part it is because of political decisions made that have escalated the cost of housing tremendously so that it limits who can afford to live in the city, which impacts the ability and the potential for diversity.”

Tate III says that in addition to his stance on human rights, he should also be remembered for his role in the development of Boulder.

“You know, part of his legacy is not actually in the arena of human rights or human relations, it’s the Pearl Street Mall, which he was a huge champion and supporter and the driving forces of, and that has dramatically shaped how Boulder looks and feels now.”

Penfield Tate III will speak about his father’s legacy at 7:00pm this Thursday, February 9, 2017 at Chautauqua in Boulder.