Lionel Wilson; Ex-Superior Court Judge, Oakland’s 1st Black Mayor

From Associated Press

Lionel Wilson, the first black mayor of Oakland, has died after battling cancer for the last year. He was 82.

The Alameda County coroner’s office said Wilson’s doctor reported that he had died Friday at home. Officials said Wilson had suffered from multiple myeloma.

Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris issued a statement Wednesday praising Wilson for paving the way for black politicians in the area.

“Lionel Wilson, a giant both in law and politics, blazed trails over which many have followed, including myself,” Harris said. “This is a tremendous loss for the city, a tremendous loss for me.”


Wilson grew up in a time when there was only one black teacher in Oakland, the Fire Department was segregated and blacks couldn’t swim in public pools. Wilson became a lawyer and then a Superior Court judge before running for mayor.

When Wilson was elected mayor in 1977, he became the leader of the most integrated city in the United States.