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Sunday May 24th, 2015 9:33PM

Floyd Adams Jr., Savannah's 1st black mayor, dies

By The Associated Press
SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) Floyd Adams Jr., who in 1995 became the first African-American elected to serve as mayor of Savannah, died Saturday. He was 68.

Adams died at the hospital, Candler Hospital spokesman Scott Larson confirmed. Larson said Adams' family had not authorized him to release any further details.

``Floyd Adams was a uniter,'' Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson said in a statement. ``He ignored racial, economic and social barriers during his decades of public service, and in doing so became the mayor of all Savannah.''

Adams was the publisher of the Savannah Herald, a weekly newspaper covering the city's black community. His father founded the paper in 1945.

Adams served on the City Council for more than 13 years before he ran for mayor in 1995. He defeated incumbent Mayor Susan Weiner by a scant 256 votes.

The victory made Adams the 63rd mayor of Georgia's oldest city, and the distinction of becoming the first African-American to hold the job made him uncomfortable.

``My race, or gender for that matter, has no bearing on how well I can lead Savannah,'' Adams said in his inaugural address in January 1996.

He took office at a time when Savannah was in the national spotlight like never before. Yachting events for the 1996 Olympics were held in the city. Tourists also flocked to Savannah to visit the area described in John Berendt's nonfiction best-seller ``Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,'' which had been published just two years prior.

Adams coasted unopposed to a second term in 1999, thanks in part to Hurricane Floyd. Though the powerful storm ultimately bypassed Savannah, its path forced the city to evacuate during the qualifying deadline for mayoral challengers.

Adams left the mayor's office at the end of 2003, but he tried to stay active in politics. After dropping out of a congressional race in 2002 and later losing campaigns for school board president and a mayoral comeback bid, Adams was elected to a seat on the Savannah-Chatham County school board in 2008.

``He was so much a part of Savannah,'' Van Johnson, a city councilman who knew Adams for decades, told The Savannah Morning News (http://bit.ly/1epaFvS ).
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