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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

Lelia Foley-Davis
(2012.201.B0154.0527, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS).


In 1973 the All-Black town of Taft, Oklahoma, elected Lelia Foley-Davis to the office of mayor, making her the nation's first elected woman African American mayor. This accomplishment eventually led the young officeholder to confer with two U.S. presidents, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. In 1974 Oklahoma named Foley-Davis the state's Outstanding Woman of the Year. Born on November 7, 1941, and raised in Taft, Foley-Davis graduated in 1960 from Moton High School. After losing her mayoral office in the early 1980s, she continued to serve the town. In 2000 she successfully regained the title of Taft's mayor. Later that year she made a bid for the District Thirteen seat in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. After receiving a majority in the Democratic primary, she lost a runoff election to Allan Harder. At the beginning of the twenty-first century she continued to reside in Taft.

Larry O'Dell

Learn More

Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 22 February 1994.

Caroline Zilboorg, Women's Firsts (Detroit: Gale Research, 1997).


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Larry O'Dell, “Foley-Davis, Lelia Kasensia Smith,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=FO001.

Published January 15, 2010

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