Maryland's 1st Black Mayor Resigns Mid-term, Racist Bullying Comes To Light After Unexpected Resignation

Maryland's 1st Black Mayor Resigns Mid-term, Racist Bullying Comes To Light After Unexpected Resignation

While the Upper Marlboro Mayor said in her official letter that she is resigning to spend more time with family, the racist attacks came to light later.

Tonga Turner had made history as she became the first Black mayor of Upper Marlboro - a town in Maryland - less than two years ago. Turner has announced her resignation, saying she'll be stepping down by the end of June. 

According to NBC Washington, Turner said in a public meeting on Monday - to which NAACP was also invited - that she's been a target of anonymous racist bullying and attacks since being in office as Mayor. 


However, Turner's resignation letter insists that she is not stepping down because of the racist attacks. Though her letter does allude to the town's "dark history and past."

Wednesday afternoon, Turner held a press conference to clarify she was not resigning due to the racial incidents she had mentioned in the Monday meeting. 


"I am not ending my term as mayor ... due to any racism or bigotry," she said Wednesday. "My decision was made based on wanting to focus more time and attention to my two small children, both of whom are under the age of 10, and my family. Period."


Residents say it wasn't until she resigned that alarming incidents came to light, which included her tires being slashed and a former town commissioner doodling swastikas during a town meeting. Turner has not explicitly mentioned the racist incidents in her resignation letter.


At the same time, she also maintains that working 90 hours a week between her full-time job and her duties as a mayor has forced her to sacrifice precious time with her kids.


"It was never my intention to give the public the impression that I am being pushed out or scared into leaving my role," Turner said. "That is simply not true. Anyone that knows me knows that I am a fighter. No one of any color, of any race, of any ethnicity, is ever going to scare me into doing anything.” 


She said the media coverage of her resignation has been unfair.
"When I was elected last year, there was literally no media coverage outlet about the story of me becoming the first African American mayor in over 300 years," she said. "Not a single media outlet shared that historic moment. And that for one was disheartening to me."


In her resignation letter, Turner cited progress in having secured $800,000 in grants, legislation that advanced economic development and the establishment of "an outreach team that is focused on diversity and inclusion." 

"It is no secret that the Town of Upper Marlboro has been plagued with a dark history and past, but my hope is that in the past two years under my leadership, each of you has seen the great promise for our future," Turner's letter said.


“No one as a whole, as an entire community, knew these things were happening until last night when she just resigned,” resident Monica Wilson said. 

“She explained a lot about receiving threatening emails and being called certain words from her constituents,” Upper Marlboro resident Angel Saules said. “Her tires have been slashed, from what I understand. And then kind of like the kicker and I think what made it be a part of the meeting is that someone who attends very regularly had been sketching swastika signs.” 

Turner was proposing plans for economic growth and expanding the town's limits. Upper Marlboro is just one mile across and a half mile wide.  

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