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First Black woman to be Petersburg mayor remembered as trailblazer, mentor and friend

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First Black woman to be Petersburg mayor remembered as trailblazer, mentor and friend

by Bill Atkinson via https://www.progress-index.com/

Prior to becoming a force in Petersburg civil rights and politics, Florence Farley was also the state’s first licensed Black psychologist in Virginia

 In 2022. Treska Wilson-Smith lost two mothers — her biological mother passed away last March, and her “mentor” mother died Sunday morning.

“It becomes a lot to take in,” Wilson-Smith said Sunday night.

Her mentor was Dr. Florence Saunders Farley, who died Sunday at the age of 95 following an undisclosed illness. Like Wilson-Smith, Farley represented Petersburg’s Ward 1 for many years on City Council. Farley also was the city’s first Black woman mayor, and she presided over council in the 1980s when the loss of Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company and the retail base signaled the start of a decades-long fiscal crisis for Petersburg.

“I have known her since I was around 11…

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I am a future butterfly at the stage of growth when I am turning into an adult. I am enclosed in a hard case shell formed by love, family, and friends. It is the hardest stage of becoming a black butterfly. You will encounter many hardships only to come out stronger and better than what you went in. At this stage, you are finding out who you truly are and how to love yourself.

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