Yemi Mobolade, a Nigerian immigrant who came to the U.S. 27 years ago as a student, has made history by becoming the first elected Black mayor of Colorado Springs, the second-largest city in the western U.S. state of Colorado. He was sworn in on June 6, 2023, after winning the election with a wide margin. Mobolade is a successful entrepreneur who owns two restaurants and a church in the city. He also served as the small business development manager for Colorado Springs from 2019 to 2022, where he earned the trust and respect of many residents and business owners.

Mobolade’s inauguration ceremony was attended by Colorado Governor Jered Polis, who praised him for his dedication and achievements. “Somebody who has dedicated his life to making Colorado Springs and America a better place, whose story we can all identify with, who came here, who started businesses,” Polis said. Mobolade said he was humbled and honored by the opportunity to serve his city. “I wake up every morning and I think it’s a dream, and then I realize, no, this really happened,” he said.

Mobolade’s victory is seen as a sign of the diversity and inclusiveness of Colorado Springs, a city of nearly 500,000 people that is more than 75% White and traditionally conservative. Many residents told VOA that they voted for Mobolade not because of his ethnicity, but because of his competence and vision. “Coloradans … don’t believe in ethnicity, they believe in competence and capacity and capability, and they found out that Mr. Yemi has it all,” Olawale Akinremi, a Colorado Springs resident said.

Mobolade’s story also inspires many immigrants and people of color who see him as a role model and a source of hope. “Just by seeing someone who looks like you, who has similar background to yours and see where that person has reached, and the goals they have achieved,” Ami Bajah-Onyejekwe, a Pueblo Colorado resident said, “gives hope and says, ‘I can do it as well.'” Mobolade said he wants to use his position to promote unity, prosperity and opportunity for all people in his city.

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