On June 5, 1973, Doris A. Davis, a 37-year-old school teacher turned city council member, was elected Mayor of the City of Compton, California, making her the first black woman mayor of a major, metropolitan American city, and only the second African American woman chief executive in US history. Focusing on problems of a soaring crime rate and high unemployment statistics in Compton, a suburb of Los Angeles, Doris, a mother of two, captured 55.4% of the votes, defeating Douglas Dollarhide, the incumbent mayor, and seven other primary candidates to become head of the city.
She served as mayor from 1973-1977. “There is much political influence in being mayor of a black city. I get a kick out of politics; I like to see things happen.” During her earliest days on the job, at a meeting of the City Council of Compton, a councilman, who mistakenly referred to Doris as Mr. Mayor asked, “Your honor, we are indeed fortunate to have such a charming, attractive mayor, but tell me, how would you like for us to address you?” She replied, “I have researched the matter and I believe the proper title is ‘Madam Mayor’.” The councilman responded with a guffaw, “Madam Mayor?”, and continued, “I’m sorry Mrs. Davis, but madam has such a bad connotation; I think I’d better try to find another title for you.” Conceding that she had no qualms about “how you address me,” the new mayor of Compton proceeded to conduct her fist council meeting with an iron hand.