By Mark F. Gray, AFRO Staff Writer, [email protected]
Colin Byrd has been a fighter since he first stepped onto campus at the University of Maryland. After delivering the activist blows that led to the name of a segregationist administrator being removed from the football stadium, he delivered a political haymaker in his hometown’s recent mayoral election.
Byrd, 27, defeated the incumbent three-term Mayor Emmett V. Jordan by only 95 votes to become the town’s youngest top elected official. He was sworn in as the youngest mayor ever elected in Greenbelt on Nov. 11. Jordan, who was the city’s first Black mayor, was elected to become the mayor pro tem for the next two years.
The new Democratic mayor, who was born and raised in Greenbelt, won the election by receiving a total of 1,769 votes. Byrd was sworn in as mayor of Greenbelt by the newly elected City Council members. Since graduating from the University of Maryland College Park in 2017, Byrd has been serving on the Greenbelt City Council. He is also the chief of staff for Maryland State Delegate Julian Ivey from District 47-A in Prince George’s County.
Byrd led the charge as a student on the College Park campus to change the name of the former Byrd Stadium because of the legacy it represented. Maryland Stadium and Capital One Field was renamed in 2015 after the newly minted Greenbelt mayor started a movement which brought attention to the history of the former student-athlete, athletic administrator, and president of the university from 1935 to 1954, who wasn’t noted for being a champion for integrating the campus.
“In light of the talk of my age, I do want to make one thing crystal clear,” Mayor Byrd said following his inauguration. “Number one, I will be a mayor for everybody, the young, the old, and the in-between. Together with the help of my colleagues, I am ready to lead to the City of Greenbelt.”
In 2015, while only 24, Byrd was the youngest candidate to run for the Greenbelt City Council. He was also the only candidate to serve as a delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention, according to a biography on Greenbelt’s website. By 2017, he became just the second African American ever elected to the Greenbelt City Council, a member of the National Urban League and the youngest ever regional director for the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials.
Byrd was the second African American elected to the Greenbelt City Council and is a member of the Urban League. He also reportedly has filed complaints about alleged ethics and open-meeting violations committed by Maryland politicians over the years.
On Greenbelt’s website Byrd is referred to as a “progressive Democrat.” During the 2017 campaign for City Council he vowed to protect “old Greenbelt” from “money hungry developers and established politicians.” He previously stated the city was “divided” and has a fourfold plan that includes expanding transportation and infrastructure development. He has also previously stated he is in favor of more gun control in the City.