Columbia mayor joins Obamas, Drake, others on list of 100 inspiring African-Americans

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin’s national star continues to rise, as the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors recently was named one of the 100 most inspiring African-Americans by Ebony magazine.

Benjamin is in the company of national power players including Barack and Michelle Obama, athletes Steph Curry and Venus Williams, politicians Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum, musicians Drake and Cardi B, and a host of business leaders, entertainers, authors, philanthropists and others on Ebony’s 2018 Power 100 list.

Benjamin is honored in the “Disruptors” category. Ebony highlights Benjamin’s work with My Brother’s Keeper, a program created by former President Barack Obama to mentor and support boys and young men of color. Ebony also notes Benjamin’s efforts to win a posthumous pardon for two black men who were wrongfully convicted and executed in the 1913 murder of a Confederate Army veteran.

The Columbia Democrat has become an increasingly vocal and visible presence on the national political stage.

In 2016, Benjamin was among about 40 people being considered as then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running mate.

Now in the role of president of the Conference of Mayors, Benjamin leads some 1,400 mayors in a bipartisan, national agenda-setting organization. He’s set his leadership focus on the areas of infrastructure, innovation and inclusion.

In June, Benjamin led a delegation of mayors to the U.S.-Mexico border in opposition of the Trump administration’s immigrant family separation policy.

In his early-2018 State of the City address, Benjamin laid out an ambitious vision for Columbia’s future that includes offering a free college education to all Columbia high school graduates.

And in the early days after the 2018 midterm election, Benjamin’s name has been floated as a possible Democratic candidate for South Carolina’s governor come 2022.

Another Midlands native, “Luke Cage” actor Mike Colter, also made the Power 100 list in the Entertainment and Arts category. Ebony praised Colter as “the first Black lead superhero character from the Marvel universe. As such, ‘Luke Cage,’ a Netflix hit in its second season, has a lot riding on Colter’s chiseled shoulders.”