Augustans weigh impact of the rise and fall of city's 1st black mayor

This month marks the 25th anniversary of one of Augusta's pivotal political moments -- the resignation of Ed McIntrye, its first black mayor, following a federal bribery conviction.


A quarter century later, Augustans still talk about the late mayor's rise and fall and the way the two events changed the city's politics.

Five men who worked on Mr. McIntyre's mayoral campaign answer this question: Which affected Augusta more, Mr. McIntyre's historic win in 1981 or his resignation in 1984?


Dr. Mallory Millender, Paine College professor and community activist: "I don't think there's any question that his resignation had a more lasting and intense impact. We will feel the loss of his influence and his ideas forever, because he would have been doing things that would have been very lasting.

"I'm sure that at some point somebody would have developed the riverfront. But, it had set there for hundreds of years undeveloped. I'm sure at some point we would have gotten a civic center but we didn't have one and nobody was trying to get one up until that time.

"There's no limit to what he planned for Augusta. Keep in mind, his mantra was there were two kinds of people; those who live in Augusta and those who wished they did. Ed meant that. He meant to make Augusta a place where everybody wanted to live. "

Dr. Ralph Walker, Augusta State University political science professor who did polling for Mr. McIntyre: "I would say his resignation because of the disappointment that we felt. His election was sort of a precursor in a sense. Who knows what the future would have held if Ed had not had his problems and served two terms of mayor?

"It's hard to speculate what the end result would have been. We have some darn good black leadership right now. I don't think long range (his resignation) has been detrimental to black leadership in the community.

"I think at some point it sort of dipped, but I think it's recovered since then."

Eugene Hunt, retired bank executive and former treasurer for Mr. McIntyre's mayoral campaign: "I would say his not being able to finish what he started. And the reason I would say that is because we're still not at the level that I believe he wanted this community to be at, and his demonstrated ability to carry the community. I don't think we have reached that potential yet, even today.

"I think his resignation has affected the community more than his election."

Marion Barnes, Richmond County school board member and campaign manager for Mr. McIntyre in 1981: "His being elected, in my opinion. It was a first. It gave hope to a lot of folks. His resignation gave despair to a lot of folks. By him being elected, gave other folks, I won't say courage, but the idea that I too can do. I would have to say his election because it did impact our government."

James Kendrick, owner of Augusta Blueprint: "I think they both were about equal. I think on the fact that he won, your stock rose.

"His resignation, your stock went back down. We felt a greater loss than the white community. To some level, we had lost some of the energy of what we were trying to do, what the community was trying to do. We'd lost that.

"And in a real sense, we had lost a conductor, an engineer if you will, of the efforts that he had begun to put forward. Now, not to take anything away from Charles DeVaney, but Charles DeVaney wasn't an Ed McIntyre. He was a good man and I think a decent mayor. But I think Mac would have been a great mayor."


- McIntyre's fall was felt by all
- Two men's political careers were intertwined