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James R. Ford
*James R. Ford was born on this date in 1925. He was an African American educator, politician, and businessman.
James Robert Ford was born in Leon County, Florida and grew up there, attending local segregated public schools. He went to college at Florida A&M University, where he earned his B.S. in 1950 and his MEd in 1959. He served in both the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army. He worked in the Leon County public school system from 1950 to 1987, starting as a teacher. Later he became the county system's first black public-school administrator, presiding over Leon County's first integrated school staff.
In 1972, Ford became the first African American mayor of Tallahassee, Florida, and the first black mayor of a U.S. state capital city. He was elected to successive terms as mayor in 1976 and 1982 and later served for fourteen years as a city commissioner, being repeatedly re-elected. In this office, he played a key role in establishing the Minority Business Department, the Frenchtown Area Development Authority, and the Affirmative Action Office. He also worked to eliminate segregated practices in the city government and to secure employment opportunities for blacks. He married Clinita, and they had three children together: a son James R. Ford Jr. and two daughters, Janita and JaKathryn.
He was also active in the business community. He built WAMN Radio Station, becoming Tallahassee's first black manager of a radio station. He owned and managed six businesses and acted as the president of CNJ Associates. Ford served as the president of Sigma Phi Pi and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternities, which he had joined in college. He was president of the Tallahassee Urban League and the Tallahassee chapter of 100 Black Men. He was commander of the Tallahassee Sail and Power Squadron. He also sat on the boards of the Chamber of Commerce, the United Way, Meals on Wheels, the March of Dimes Big Bend Chapter, the American Red Cross's Tallahassee Chapter, and the Florida League of Cities. He also sat on the boards of the Tallahassee Memorial Regional Medical Center, the Lively Vocational School and Peoples 1st Community Bank. James R. Ford died on October 11, 2017 at the age of 91.