The Town of Carrboro expresses its deepest sympathy that former Carrboro Mayor Robert “Bob” Drakeford has passed away.
Mr. Drakeford made history as Carrboro’s first and only Black mayor, elected in 1977 and serving until 1983. Longtime residents remember him as the young activist mayor who was elected as part of the progressive Carrboro Coalition in the 1970s.
“Mayor Drakeford brought a planner’s sensibility and a forward-looking vision to a Carrboro that was ripe for both,” Carrboro Mayor Damon Seils said. “Many of his priorities, from expanding public transportation and improving pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure to fostering a welcoming, inclusive community, are at the heart of what we in Carrboro continue to reach for today.
“I offer sincerest condolences to Mayor Drakeford’s family from the community he made a better place.”
Mayor Drakeford served as alderman from 1975 to 1977 before being elected as mayor in 1977. A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill’s city and regional planning program, he was an advocate for public transit and cycling, and he developed valuable collaborations with other progressive Black mayors in the South during his tenure.
Mayor Drakeford held public office when the Council (then Board of Aldermen) hired Richard Knight as the town’s first Black town manager, employed from 1976-1980. And he served as mayor during the hiring of the Town’s first professional planner, who was Black. This decision helped set high standards that eventually made Carrboro more accessible to pedestrians and cyclists. He also established a loan program to encourage business entrepreneurs, and created the Carrboro Community Park, later renamed the Hank Anderson Community Park. The biggest issue during his tenure was planning the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Bus System.
The Town of Carrboro will remember Mayor Drakeford for his service to the community, for his courage and dedication, and for laying the foundation for an inclusive community.