Memphian Stories: Mayor Candace Hollingsworth

This past weekend, Memphis hosted its second annual Black Millennial Convention at LeMoyne-Owen College. The event included panels and sessions centered around the needs and wants of the Black community in Memphis. It featured leading Millennial voices from Memphis such as State Senator Raumesh Akbari, Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer; President of Black Millennials for Flint, LaTricea Adams; and TN State Rep. London Lamar.

One panel – “Black Southern Mayors” which included Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris – featured Candace Hollingsworth, a Memphis millennial who became the youngest and first African-American mayor of Hyattsville, Maryland. We were able to catch up with her to ask a few questions around her ties to the Bluff City.

Who is Mayor Candace Hollingsworth?

I’m a native Memphian that’s leading a growing Maryland city of 20,000 residents as its youngest and first African-American mayor. I was inspired to run for office because I wanted to be a part of building a community that my children will always see had “room” for them at whatever age and phase of life. My life’s path has not allowed me to return home to Memphis, but that longing motivates me every day to do my job as if time runs out tomorrow.

What skills did Memphis give you that helped make you become a strong mayor? 

Memphis grounds me. For better or worse, it still does. At home, I learned: To be patient. To relax and have fun. To be a high-achiever, but don’t take yourself too seriously. I don’t think you can be a successful community or elected leader without those traits—the job and the responsibility of it will consume you.

What is your favorite place to visit when you come back home to Memphis?

My parent’s house for love, attention, and fried catfish. City and State for a good cup of coffee and space to write.

BBQ or Hot Wings? And from where?

If I had to pick, I’d choose hot wings. Seasoned, no sauce, from Crumpy’s.

Favorite Memphis song?

Just Like Candy (8Ball & MJG)

As a successful millennial, what would be your advice for Gen Z Memphians?

I know that deference to elders is a way of life in the South. I get that. Know that you can still be respectful without having to ask for permission. Trust that your talents have a lot to offer our City and never, ever, undermine or discount them.

What does Bring your soul mean to you?

It means whatever you do, bring your full self to it: what drives you, what inspires you, and what makes you, you.

Do you see yourself bringing your family back to Memphis? And if so, how would you like to bring your soul?  

It’s difficult to envision that reality when I’ve spent so much time making Maryland home for my children. I don’t rule it out, though. If I did, it would be because the soul of the city called me back – and it does from time to time. A dream return would have me engaged freely in policy work that uplifts communities and calls on the talents of everyone to move our City forward.

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