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Houlahan Honors West Chester’s First Black Mayor in House Floor Speech

Dr. Clifford DeBaptiste was elected the first Black Mayor of West Chester in 1994 and will celebrate his 100th birthday this May

WEST CHESTER, PA – This week, Representative Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) honored Dr. Clifford DeBaptiste, who turns 100 this May, with a speech on the House Floor. Known for his decades of service to the borough of West Chester and surrounding areas, Dr. DeBaptiste is a beloved figure in the community. The speech coincides with Black History Month.


Watch the video here and read the remarks below:


I rise to honor a resident of my community, Clifford DeBaptiste, who will be celebrating his 100th birthday this May. Clifford has served our community for over seventy years, first in the Army from 1951 to 1954, where he reached the rank of sergeant major, and then as a business and civic leader.


After serving in uniform, Clifford moved to West Chester with his wife Inez and daughters Lillian, Inez, and Celeste, where he attended West Chester University and the first degree-granting HBCU, Lincoln University. He and Inez opened several funeral homes, becoming an active member of the local business community. During this time, he served 13 terms as Chairman of the Pennsylvania State Board of Funeral Directors.


In 1994, he made history as the first Black Mayor of West Chester.


His work revitalized West Chester’s downtown and led to incredible growth for local businesses, with the number of restaurants in the borough rising from 15 to 57 during his term. Since his retirement, he has remained active in our local community, and we are so grateful for his contributions and


those of his daughter, Lillian, who followed in his footsteps and is the current Mayor [of West Chester] – happy early Birthday, Clifford!


Thank you and I yield back.


Houlahan is an Air Force veteran, an engineer, a serial entrepreneur, an educator, and a nonprofit leader. She represents Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, which encompasses Chester County and southern Berks County. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. She is the recipient of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Abraham Lincoln Leadership for America Award which “recognizes members who demonstrate the bipartisan leadership and constructive governing necessary to move our country forward” and the Congressional Management Foundation’s 2022 Democracy Award for best Constituent Services in Congress.