James ‘J.H.’ Atkins Sworn In As First Black Mayor of Danville Kentucky

James ‘J.H.’ Atkins Sworn In as First Black Mayor of Danville Kentucky

Mayor James J.H. Atkins
(Image: WKYT/Screenshot)

James “J.H.” Atkins made history on Dec. 21 when he was sworn in as the first Black mayor of Danville, KY, according to WKYT News.

The city of Danville is 235 years old, and Atkins said he was humbled to be the first African-American mayor of the city.

“I’m proud, but at the same time, I’m very humble,” said Atkins.

“So it’s really not about me. It’s about the whole community. My campaign was vote Atkins, the people’s mayor. I listen to everybody in this town. It’s another example of kids in our community looking up and saying, ‘There’s a role model.’ I’m somebody who looks like them and if he can do it, so can they,” he added. “I stress my qualifications. I just happen to be Black.”

Atkins graduated from Kentucky State University and became a lifelong educator who taught history and civics. The Army veteran also served as Danville’s city commissioner for 12 years, as well as vice mayor for eight years.

The mayor’s wife Artie Atkins said that the people of Danville love her husband.

“He is an African American, we recognize that, but the best part is he is a citizen of Danville and the people actually love him and he loves them,” she said.

The new mayor says that he has lots of plans for the city of Danville and noted that homelessness and economic development are among them.

“Master plan for the parks, downtown master plan, economic development, homelessness, housing,” said Atkins. “We put in the work and we put the time in. Sometimes you get results.”

Atkins added that he knows some of his decisions as mayor will be questioned due to his race, but challenged those who do so to note his qualifications and come and talk to him.

“I realize that being an African-American male, there’s going to be some people who are going to question my decision making, my judgment, just because of that, but what I prefer for them to do is look at my qualifications and come talk to me.”

Mayor Atkins’ first city commission meeting will be held on Monday, Jan. 9.