Robert Wood is credited for being one of the first African-American mayors in the United States. He served as mayor of Natchez, Mississippi, in the early 1870s.
Wood was born in 1844 to Susie Harris, a housekeeper, and Dr. Robert Wood, a white doctor from Virginia. By oral histories, his mother was never a slave and she lived in a house beside his father.
As part of the “Black and Tan Revolution,” Woods was elected as mayor. The Black and Tan Revolution was a short-lived political shift in Mississippi in which citizens elected many Blacks to state offices between 1868 and 1875.
As mayor, Wood built Natchez’s first school for African Americans in 1871. He also worked closely with John R. Lynch, the Congressman representing the area during the Reconstruction era. Both Wood and Lynch worked as printers at a Natchez printing company prior to their political careers.
After his political career, Wood operated a store in Washington, Mississippi. He married Susan Collins and they had two children. The date of Wood’s death is unknown.
Watch the video and find out more about Robert Wood.
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