Ron Oden

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Ron Oden (born March 21, 1950) is an American politician. In November 2003, he was elected the first gay African-American mayor of Palm Springs, California, after serving eight years on the city council becoming the first Black openly gay man to be a mayor of a U.S. city.[1][2]

Biography

Early Life and Education

Oden was born on March 21, 1950 in Detroit, Michigan and grew up in Los Angeles, California. He attended Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama, earning a Bachelor of Arts in History, Sociology, and Theology. He also went on to earn a Master of Arts degree in Theology at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, as well as a Master of Arts Degree in Ethnic Studies at the University at Albany, SUNY.[3] He is an ordained Seventh-day Adventist minister, but resigned shortly before entering politics.[4]

Politics

In 1990, Oden moved to Palm Springs, California to begin teaching at the College of the Desert as an adjunct Sociology instructor. Concern about educational and social issues motivated Oden to enter politics, and in 1995, he was elected to the Palm Springs City Council.[3]

In 2000, Oden ran for Congress on a limited budget, capturing 38% of the vote.[5]

In 2003, Oden was elected Mayor of Palm Springs. As the first openly gay African American mayor elected in California, Oden's election made global news headlines.[5] Oden's tenure as mayor was notable for his work promoting organizations focused on diversity, including the Palm Springs Human Rights Task Force, the Palm Springs Human Rights Commission, and the Palm Springs branch of the NAACP.[6] Oden also brought in the Palm Springs City Council's first gay majority.[7]

Palm Springs saw historical growth during Oden's tenure, with the city's budget doubling during his term. Oden saw success in building Palm Springs as a destination resort city, helped by a new concourse being added to the Palm Springs International Airport in 2007 and new amenities like the Palm Springs Skatepark, considered one of California's best skateparks.[8][9]

In June 2006, he lost in the Democratic primary for a seat in the California State Assembly by less than 100 votes.[10]

In 2007, he was honored with a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars.[11]

In 2015, eight years after the completion of his initial stint as mayor, Oden once again ran for mayor of Palm Springs.[12] Oden lost the election to Robert Moon.[13]

Personal Life and Legacy

Oden is openly bisexual and is the father of two daughters, Brooke and Brittany. He is also the grandfather of two granddaughters and two grandsons.[5]

In recognition of his role in the Palm Springs community as the first openly gay African American elected as mayor of a California city, Oden was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by Great Palm Springs Pride at the 2019 Pride Honors Awards.[14]

References

  1. "These Black, LGBTQ Americans helped move the Pride movement forward" (in en-US). https://www.wtsp.com/article/news/community/famous-black-lgbt-americans-pride/67-03722102-620d-40dd-a8e4-5210ab0cfbd9. 
  2. "16 queer black pioneers who made history" (in en). https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/black-history-month-17-lgbtq-black-pioneers-who-made-history-n1130856. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Ito, Gail Arlene (2008-01-29). "Ron Oden (1950- ) •" (in en-US). https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/oden-ron-1950/. 
  4. Desert Mayor Seeks Assembly Seat « Ron Oden Media
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Making gay black history: Ron Oden was no stranger to success when his historic election as Palm Springs mayor made international headlines". The Advocate. http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1589/is_2004_Feb_17/ai_n6008624. 
  6. "Event Calendar | City of Palm Springs". https://www.palmspringsca.gov/Home/Components/Calendar/Event/21110/15. 
  7. "Palm Springs elects an all-LGBTQ City Council, showing the power of gay politics" (in en-US). 2017-11-15. https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-me-palm-springs-lgbt-council-20171115-story.html. 
  8. "Palm Springs 75th Anniversary - History Palm Springs International Airport" (in en-US). 2013-10-01. https://www.palmspringslife.com/flying-high-at-psp/. 
  9. "Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism" (in en). https://www.visitpalmsprings.com/. 
  10. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-10-11. https://web.archive.org/web/20061011223130/http://secure.victoryfund.org/cand_detail.php?cand_id=2238. Retrieved 2006-09-29. 
  11. Palm Springs Walk of Stars: By Date Dedicated
  12. Marx, Jesse. "Ron Oden returns to politics" (in en). https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/politics/elections/2015/09/29/reenergized-ron-oden-returns-palm-springs-politics/73050934/. 
  13. "Robert Moon". https://www.palmspringsca.gov/home/showdocument?id=43422. 
  14. "Greater Palm Springs Pride Names 2019 Pride Honor Award Winners" (in en-US). 2019-09-03. https://www.palmspringslife.com/greater-palm-springs-pride/. 

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