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December 24, 2014

City to pay tribute to first African-American elected to council

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Posted: Saturday, June 21, 2014 12:58 am

TALLADEGA -- The city will pay tribute to its first African-American City Council member Monday evening, when the official portrait of John Lawrence Taylor is unveiled at City Hall at 5 p.m.

A Talladega native, Taylor graduated from Talladega College in 1951 and earned a master’s degree from Tuskegee in 1971. He worked for the Talladega County Board of Education for 30 years, eventually working as a Title I evaluator responsible for some 2,000 students.

He ran for City Council in 1975, saying he wanted to help make Talladega “a model city, a pace setter.” He emphasized his belief that government should “involve both input from the citizens (including open town meetings) and strong, forward-looking leadership that would restore public confidence,” he said at the time.

He was elected following a run-off, then re-elected to a second term, serving until 1983. After leaving the council, he continued to serve as a member of the Talladega Water and Sewer Board and the city planning commission before his death, at home, in 1985.

He was appointed to the state election commission in 1980 and received awards from the National Education Association, Talladega College and the NAACP. He was also active in the Talladega Improvement Society, the Talladega County Democratic Conference and Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church, where he was a deacon.

Vicki Taylor Bass, his youngest daughter, said there were several factors involved in choosing the specific date for the dedication.

“For me personally, having it this close to Father’s Day was one factor. But my father was also elected 39 years ago. (Current Mayor) Larry Barton was mayor then, too, and will be able to speak as someone who knew my father personally. He will be able to speak about him from first-hand knowledge. If this had been done 10 years ago, there probably would have been a mayor who didn’t know him. Now, we’ve come full circle.”

Bass also said that her father’s sister, who is now 92 years old, will be coming up for the ceremony from Jacksonville, Fla.

Barton said Taylor was “a man of his word and knew how to handle folks. He was a master at communicating. It was an honor to serve with him.”

The portrait will be unveiled in the City Council chamber at 5 p.m. Monday.

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