NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Family, friends, and dignitaries from across Connecticut gathered in New Haven Friday to remember former Mayor John Daniels.
“Mayor Daniels leaves a great legacy, which lives in us, which includes one, love God, two love, your neighbor, and three, equality for all,” said Pastor John Henry Scott III, JSFLJ Ministries.
Daniels was a trail-blazer in the Elm City, becoming the first African-American is to hold the city’s top job.
“I think my dad was an agent of change,” said son, Lt. John Key Daniels. “He believed in shared government, everyone should have an equal share, an equal opportunity.”
The former mayor was born in Georgia, but he surely made New Haven his own, moving in time to play football for Hillhouse High School. He then he got a scholarship to play football at Villanova.
He was a businessman, an educator, and a college football referee. For his political carreer, Daniels began as an alderman, then a state senator, before running for Mayor in 1989. He beat out a political aide named John Destefano in that race, and went on to get re-elected in 1991.
Destefano was present in Battell Chapel for Daniels’ funeral, along with rows of of other politicians. New Haven’s current mayor, the second African-American in the job, called Daniels a pioneer.
“His vision for New Haven was innovative and bold, and he worked to bring this city into alignment with that vision,” current New Haven Mayor Toni Harp said.