By Frank M. Powell, III
Orlando elected Jerry L. Demings (D) to become the first African-American Mayor of Orange County. Demings is currently serving as the first African-American sheriff of Orange County, Florida – first elected to that position in 2008.
He was also the Chief of the Orlando Police Department. Even more impressive, his wife, Val, served as the first female Chief of the Orlando Police Department. She was the first woman to hold that position and is now serving as the first elected Congress Woman in the newly formed District 10.
This is part of the same District that was held by Corrine Brown before it was broken up into two districts. Val Demings is one of seven children born to a modest family. Her father worked in orange groves while her mother was a housekeeper. Val’s family lived in Mandarin – a neighborhood in Jacksonville. She attended segregated schools in the 1960s, served on the “school patrol” at Dupont Junior High School and graduated from Wolfson High (class of 1970), She also attended Bethune-Cookman University and Florida State University. She was awarded an honorary Doctorate this year.
“Val” will serve the next two years as the member of the United States House of Representatives from Florida’s 10th Congressional District and soon to also serve as Orlando, Florida’s First Lady.
This article originally appeared in the The Florida Star.