The Library of Virginia
Picture of Jessie Rattley Jessie M. Rattley (1929-  ) was the first African American elected to the Newport News City Council. She served from 1970 to 1986 and from 1986 to 1990 was the first woman mayor of the city. Her long career in municipal government paralleled the careers of many other Virginia women in city and county government, on school boards, and in other roles in Virginia politics. From 1975 to 1979 she was a member of the board of directors of the National Municipal League, and in 1979 she became the first African American and the first woman to serve as president. Rattley was one of the best-known Virginia government officials in the nation. She served on numerous state and national study commissions, received many awards, and in 1990 was a fellow of the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Urban problems common to many other American cities exist in Virginia cities, as well, and many women and African Americans, who could not have served in those responsible positions in the conditions under which Virginia politics was formerly conducted, now serve on local governing bodies throughout the state.

Courtesy Richmond Times-Dispatch