Opelousas' first black mayor, John Joseph, dies at 84 - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Opelousas' first black mayor, John Joseph, dies at 84

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The city of Opelousas is remembering its first black mayor, John Joseph, who died early Friday morning. He was 84-years-old. 

The Korean War Veteran and former teacher was elected in 1986 and served as mayor for seven years. While serving as Opelousas Mayor, Joseph created the city's first government committees.

"It was a big deal because you really had a chance to vet situations out," explained former City Councilman & Mayor 

Joseph also spearheaded many new ideas like transferring the city's electric to Cleco. 

One of his colleagues says every time Joseph proposed something new, he showed up prepared and was a great communicator.

"He was a school teacher, and you know, he would teach us on a lot of different situations," said Thibodeaux

Not only was John Joseph Opelousas' first black mayor, he also founded the community's museum and interpretive center. The center offers many educational programs for kids and promotes the history of the city.

"The memories of John Joseph hold a big place in my heart because in the short time that I knew him, and I would talk to him, it was very inspiring because he really talked about this museum and he loved it. Just to see some of the things he did for Opelousas," explained Opelousas Museum & Interpretative Center Director, Delores Guillory 

Thibodeaux says when Joseph got to know people, he'd let out his comical side 

"Sometime when a group would get together and talk a little bit, he would always say students, students," said Thibodeaux

Friends say Joseph always approached life as an educator, teaching and inspiring others all along the way.

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