In celebration of Juneteenth, the South Chandler Self Help Foundation Inc. will pay tribute Arizona’s first elected African American mayor, Coy Payne. The public is invited to the gala black-tie reception and gospel musical concert at the Chandler Center for the Arts, June 18, 6:30 p.m. Donation for the event is a minimum of  $40, with the proceeds benefiting the 501-c3c non-profit community organization.

The Hon. Coy Payne was elected mayor of the East Valley city of Chandler in November of 1989. He served two terms as head of the city from 1990 to 1994, which was beginning of the city’s meteoric population growth.

Before his election as mayor, Mr. Payne was the second African American elected to the city council in Chandler, serving eight years in that capacity. The first was Zora Folley. The legendary former educator and assistant principal in the Chandler school district, Mayor Payne continues to be well respected for his insight, civic contributions and consensus building abilities.

Though retired from public service, he continues to be involved in several community organizations and as an officer in his church. With his wife, Willie, of 56 years, they have built a legacy of service in Chandler and the valley. The Chandler school district named a school in their honor, Coy and Willie Payne Junior High School and the gymnasium at Chandler High was also dedicated in his honor.

A product of segregation and poverty, those obstacles and others were not high enough to keep him from becoming successful in his life endeavors. Coming to Arizona from Texas with his parents and siblings as a child to pick cotton with several families in the back of a flatbed truck Payne knew what it was to be dirt poor. Unable to attend high school in Chandler, because they didn’t have one for Black children, he and others rode a bus 50 plus miles round trip to go to school. With no air condition or cushion seats or freeways it was not a joy ride.

In an interview with the Chandler Historical Society he noted, When I finished high school I went to ASU for a semester.  But times were hard for mother and dad, and they could not afford to send anybody to college.” However, a younger sister wanted to become a nurse. So the family, including Mr. Payne made sacrifices and concentrated on assisting her become a registered nurse-which she did. Later he obtained his college degree through the GI Bill.

“It was implanted in me in high school to become a community minded person, to make the community a better place for those who resided here including myself,” said Payne regarding his community work. Please join us as we celebrate the many contributions the Hon. Coy Payne has made as a civic leader, educator, administrator, husband and father.

“Juneteenth” celebrates what has grown to become the “fourth of July” for American Blacks. When the last slaves were freed in Galveston Texas on June 19,1865. Juneteenth has become a time of reflection and celebration of the rich African-American heritage.

SCSHF is a non-profit community organization that assists families or individuals develop self-reliance and spirituality while setting goals for success. The foundation provides social, cultural and health related activities that educate and empower a community. For tickets and sponsorship information call 480-593-9488 or 480-430-8946.