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Who is Jaylen Smith? Meet the 18-year-old who just became the youngest Black mayor in the country history

Who is Jaylen Smith? Meet the 18-year-old who just became the youngest Black mayor in the country history

After defeating his opponent for the position in a small Arkansas town, an 18-year-old college freshman is now the country’s youngest Black mayor.

Jaylen Smith, a recent Earle High School graduate, said that while he was “confident” he’d win the runoff election Tuesday, he was still surprised to learn of his victory. According to 2020 census data, he will be the mayor of Earle, a town of just under 2,000 people near Memphis, Tennessee.

Who is Jaylen Smith? Meet the 18-year-old who just became the youngest Black mayor in the country history

“I felt so grateful! I had the craziest facial reaction when I won! It was such a blessing,” Smith told NBC News, adding that his parents are proud of him and have supported his campaign “every step of the way.”

According to The Hill, Smith received 218 votes, while his opponent, Nemi Matthews Sr., received 139.

Smith said he decided to run for mayor at the beginning of his senior year after being encouraged by his fellow student government association members. He stated that he is fully aware of the historic significance of his victory. “It feels fantastic. “This historical moment will be read about by generations and generations of people,” he said.

Who is Jaylen Smith? Meet the 18-year-old who just became the youngest Black mayor in the country history

Smith stated that as mayor-elect, he intends to prioritize transportation, public safety, and the establishment of a major grocery store in the city. Smith is particularly passionate about improving residents’ access to food sources.

“We had one a long time ago, but it closed,” Smith lamented about the now-closed grocery store. “Our seniors don’t have transportation to get to and from West Memphis to get food. So it would be better to have a grocery store here in town.”