Charles Barbour

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Charles L. Barbour (D)
1970 Charles Barbour.JPG
Barbour in 1970

Electoral District City Council (elected)
Term Start 1974
Term End 1976
Preceded by Francis Fife (D)
Succeeded by Nancy O'Brien (D)

Electoral District At-large (elected)
Term Start 1970
Term End 1974
Preceded by Gunther "Dutch" Vogt (R)
Succeeded by Charles Barbour (D)

Electoral District At-large (elected)
Term Start 1974
Term End 1978
Preceded by Charles Barbour (D)
Succeeded by Thomas E. Albro (R)

Biographical Information

Spouse Mary
Residence Charlottesville, VA
Profession Licensed practical nurse (LPN)
Campaign $ VPAP
Contributions $ VPAP

Charles Barbour was the first African American to sit on Charlottesville's City Council (1970-1978) and Charlottesville’s first African American Mayor (1974-1976). [1]. He is a retired Licensed practical nurse (LPN).

Elected in 1970, Barbour focused his efforts on revitalizing downtown. Along with his fellow Charlottesville City Council members – including Jill Rinehart, the first female member of Charlottesville City Council – he supported the controversial process of constructing the Downtown Mall. Construction included closing Main Street to vehicles traffic and transform the former street area into a pedestrian mall. (Courtesy of Visual History Collection RG-31/1/10.011. Special Collections, University of Virginia)

Barbour also supported a site within City limits for locating the Fashion Square Mall, though the project was eventually built in Albemarle County. [citation needed]


Barbour attended Burley High School, a segregated black school and got involved in politics in the early 1960's as a member of the local branch of the NAACP. A nurse by training, Barbour was courted as a candidate by the Democratic Party in 1970, with Francis Fife (D) as a running mate.

As part of her "Firsts" series, local artist Frances Brand painted Charles Barbour for his role as the first Black mayor of Charlottesville.[2]

1970 election

Candidates Votes %
Francis Fife (D) 3,567
Charles Barbour (D) 3,202
Gunther "Dutch" Vogt (R) 3,121
B. Aubrey Huffman (R) 2,833
Thomas E. Doswell (I) 382
Source: City of Charlottesville [3]

Each voter could vote for up to two candidates in the 1970 election.

Downtown Mall

Barbour was only one of two votes during the March 18, 1974 council vote that created the Charlottesville Downtown Mall, as three of the five Councilors abstained to avoid an appearance of conflict of interest. [4]

Barbour presided over the opening of the Downtown Mall in 1976. Mitch Van Yahres called Barbour 'the father of the Downtown Mall.'[5]

Frances Brand portrait

Charles Barbour as depicted by Frances Brand

Barbour was a subject of local artist Frances Brand (1901-1990), whose most-celebrated work is a collection of portraits called "Firsts" - images of local people who were pioneers in a field or endeavor.


  1. City of Charlottesville "Mayors of Charlottesville" <>.
  2. Branigan, Michelle Marie (December 1998). A Biography of Frances Brand, an American Painter and Social Activist (PhD). Indiana University.
  3. Web. Election Results for June 9, 1970, City of Charlottesville, retrieved January 28, 2023.
  4. Web. Former Councilors share memories of early days of Downtown Mall, Sean Tubbs & Brian Wheeler, News Article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, April 13, 2010, retrieved July 3, 2020.
  5. Web. Mayorsville: Here, everybody's a mayor, Lisa Provence, The Hook, Better Publications LLC, August 10, 2006, retrieved January 28, 2023. Print. August 10, 2006 , 0532, .