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First elected African-American mayor of West Memphis dies

Leo Chitman served as mayor from 1982-86. During his time in office, the city said he worked to heal racial divides and move West Memphis forward.
Credit: City of West Memphis/Facebook
Leo Chitman

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — The first elected African-American mayor of West Memphis, Leo Chitman, has died.

According to a Facebook post, Chitman served as mayor from 1982-86. During his time in office, the city said he worked to heal racial divides and move West Memphis forward. 

"It was Chitman's historic victory that paved the way for other African-American leaders to be elected citywide, including current mayor Marco McClendon," the city wrote.

We are deeply saddened this evening to share the loss of former West Memphis mayor, Leo Chitman. Chitman, the first...

Posted by The City of West Memphis on Wednesday, January 12, 2022

“During my first few days in office, Mayor Chitman stopped by City Hall to offer words of congratulations, encouragement, and counsel. Because of his trailblazing journey, I was able to go farther than I ever could have dreamed or envisioned,” said Mayor McClendon. "The heartfelt prayers of a city grateful for his service go out to the Chitman family during your time of loss and bereavement."

The city will add more information on its website and on social media when it is released.