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Youngest African American mayor in the U.S. visits St. Paul church

Youngest Black mayor looks to inspire next generation of leaders
Youngest Black mayor looks to inspire next generation of leaders 02:30

ST. PAUL, Minn. — It's the culmination service of Black History Month at Shiloh Baptist Church in St. Paul.

The congregation is dressed in their best African apparel, the choir ushering in the voice of the hour — the youngest African American mayor in the United States, Jaylen Smith.

"I want to tell you how I got here where I am today number one faith, number two is hope, number three is hard work," said Smith.

Smith was 18 years old when he was sworn into office as mayor or Earle, Arkansas, a town of 2,000 people.

When he ran for office, he wasn't even old enough to vote.

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"Young people, I want to encourage you and challenge you to position yourself for opportunity," Smith said.

Smith believes you are never too young to make a difference in your community.

"Our ancestors have paved he way, only thing we have to do as young people is pick up the torch," Smith said.

His words of encouragement, phrased like a preacher of the gospel.

His accomplishment praised by the first Black mayor in St. Paul, who was once among the youngest mayors in America himself.

"I feel very, very hopeful and inspired, so welcome to St. Paul. Bless you for the work that you do. We love you," said Mayor Melvin Carter.

Senior Pastor Rev. Dr. Steve Daniels, Jr. says he brought Mayor Smith to St. Paul in hopes of inspiring young people. 

"I hope, in the metro area, the young people can see this young man and say there is a better side than all this violence, all this crime," said Daniels.

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Smith hopes to inspire but also bridge the gap between generations. 

"Get involved within your community. A matter of fact, get involved to know what is going on around you and understand whatever decision you make, or whatever path you decide to go on, there will be obstacles, challenges and distractions, but that don't mean you give up," Smith said,.

Smith's priorities are community growth and education. He is currently enrolled in college while serving as mayor.

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