Local African-American county commissioners making history
NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — All month stories are being told about African-American pioneers in honor of Black History Month.
Two men in the Port City are making history, serving on the most powerful local governing body.
“I didn’t have all the credentials that everybody thought I should’ve had, but I tried it,” former New Hanover County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield Sr. said. “Put a little Jesus in it and it worked.”
“It’s kind of cool to say that me and my father have both served,” County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield Jr. said. “For me its sad we’re the only two African-Americans to have served since 1898.”
Jonathan Barfield Sr. was the first black man to serve on the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners since the Wilmington Coup in 1898.
Jonathan Barfield Jr. did not originally plan on following in his father’s footsteps, but he realized how important representation was for his community.
“It’s so great to have diversity of thought as well as diversity of background coming to the table that will make people think in a different way about certain things,” Barfield Jr. said. “I think he brought that and I believe I bring that as well.”
Barfield Jr. says some things have changed a lot, but some not so much. Nonetheless, his father says it has always been about serving the people of New Hanover County.
“You don’t go down there with a black agenda, you go down there with an agenda for New Hanover County. And that’s what I want people to get out of this,” Barfield Sr. said. “This is where the Barfields stand. We stand in representing people in New Hanover County, don’t care what color you are or what race you are.”
Jonathan Barfield Jr. says the board is working on creating a more diverse and inclusive community by creating a commission on African-American history and education one another on cultural competencies.