The headlines are mostly the same: ‘Town Elects First Black Mayor, 80 Percent Of Police Force Immediately Resigns’ or ‘Missouri police officers resign after black female mayor is elected’. The city of 740 people made town history by electing its first African-American female mayor, Tyrus Byrd, who by 37 votes unseated Mayor Randall Ramsey from his 37-year position. Five of the six full-time police officers, as well as three part-time officers gave absolutely no notice, & their resignations immediate, just hours prior to the Mayor-elect’s swearing-in, while the city attorney, clerk, & water treatment supervisor resigned their positions, all citing “safety concerns” in resignation letters. Parma, Missouri is situated less than a three-hour drive from Ferguson & 40-43 miles south of Advance, which is of particular importance to this author. My father was born & raised there in a southern Baptist household, the son of a fire & brimstone minister, & I lived there for a short 2 1/2 years, attending 5th & 6th grade, experiencing life ‘down in the boot’. But, personal history accounts are for later, the cities are much more interesting, as of late……
In 1884 the owner of a cotton plantation, Captain W.H. Whitwell, dedicated 60 acres that became the City of Advance. There is one elementary school for grades K-6 and a consolidated junior-senior high school for grades 7-12 with an average yearly enrollment of 500 students in the district. For adults aged 25 and older, 62.6% possess a high school diploma or GED as their highest educational attainment, 21.8% have less than high school,11.7% possess a bachelor’s degree or higher and 3.9% possess a post-graduate or professional degree according to 2014 stats. In 2010, there were 1,347 people, 578 households, and 356 families residing in the city, the residents 98.74% white, 0.07% black & approx.1.19% of any other race rounding out the populace. The median income for a family [in 2000] was $38,167. The unemployment rate in is 6.95%, which is above the state average & there is no sustained industry in the town, no hotel services, full service medical facilities or secondary education facilities. Advance is at the intersection of State Highway 25 and State Highway 91/Route C in Stoddard County. The city has a total area of 1.12 square miles of Bible belt terrain.
Parma was first incorporated as a village in 1900 & in 1903, with the neighboring community of Lotta incorporated, became a fourth class city in 1905. The population was 713 people, 283 households, and 196 families residing in the city at the 2010 Census, with 67.46% white, 29.45% black & approx 3.09% of any other race rounding out the populace. The median income for a family [in 2000] was $23,333. The city has a total area of 0.69 square miles in New Madrid County of Bible belt terrain, an informal term for a region in the south-eastern and south-central US in which socially conservative evangelical Protestantism plays a strong role in society and politics, covering most of Missouri.
Mayor Elect Tyrus Byrd served as city clerk in the past, was born and raised in Parma and does missionary work. She said her first order of business will be to help clean up the city. As it stands now, a trash exodus has stared & the city’s residents, new Mayor & neighboring communities are the better for it. I wish them all success. Those on the offensive due to the change in management should know the antiquated platforms are shaky, crumbling, & will be dismantled. It has to start somewhere,it has to start sometime….