Darren E. Bryant assumed office in May as the youngest African-American mayor for Robbins, at the outskirts of Chicago. He is not only the youngest African-American mayor to hold office in the Cook County village, but the entire state of Illinois. Bryant won the seat of the incumbent Mayor Tyrone Ward by gaining 52% of the total votes.
“It’s a surreal moment,” Bryant told Good Morning America. “This is the people’s victory more so than mine and I think ‘humbling’ is the best word to describe how I feel right now.”
Bryant believes he has a major task ahead, and that includes restoring Robbins to its former glory. The 29-year-old mayor grew up with parents who served local schools, trustee boards and elected officials, and that exposed him to the dynamics of local elections and politics at a young age.
“I got exposed to government at an early age and understood what it meant to serve and dedicate my time to others,” he,” told the Chicago Defender.
At Kentucky State University, Bryant plunged into school politics and won the seat for the Junior Class President for the Student Government Association. He knew he had a lot to offer his people. At 23, he returned to Robbins, the sixth oldest African-American community which was established in 1917, after graduation in 2014. He became the Commissioner and Vice President at Robins Park District. Then at the prime age of 25, Bryant was elected as Village Trustee of Robbins and now he is the mayor.
Dwayne Wade, Keke Palmer and other famous faces grew up in Robbins. The county was once the home of America’s first Black-owned and operated airport. It currently has a 42% poverty rate, 51.8% rate of homeownership, and only 12% of residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Bryant is ready to bring change.
“I’d like to see an increase in homeownership, residential development, economically viable businesses, and a village filled with residents living in a town where their quality of life has improved,” Bryant said during a recent interview with Color Coded Voices.
He plans on working through the municipality and using it as an investment machine that will “empower people through residential development, job training, and creation.”
As a teacher at his former high school, Eisenhower High School, and one of the few Black educators in the school district, Bryant is big on impacting the next generation to be leaders. He has inspired so many young ones to follow in his stead and the feedback so far is amazing, with some aspiring to beat his record of being the youngest mayor of Robbins and many others aspiring to be lawmakers.
“The community of Robbins is a family-oriented culture,” Bryant said. “Its culture of pride, hard work, and history repeat itself. To understand the future, you must know the past. We will restore the Village of Robbins, not the dominant, culture-filled, prosperous town in which it once was.”