Wilson Goode

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Wilson Goode
Wilson Goode (1).jpg
95th Mayor of Philadelphia
In office
January 2, 1984 – January 6, 1992
Preceded byWilliam J. Green III
Succeeded byEd Rendell
Personal details
Woodrow Wilson Goode

(1938-08-19) August 19, 1938 (age 82)
Seaboard, North Carolina, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Velma Goode (m. 1960-present)
ChildrenW. Wilson Goode Jr.

Woodrow Wilson Goode Sr. (born August 19, 1938) is a former Mayor of Philadelphia and the first African American to hold that office. He served from 1984 to 1992, a period which included the controversial MOVE police action and house bombing in 1985. Goode was also a community activist, chair of the state Public Utility Commission, and managing director for the City of Philadelphia.

Early life[edit]

Goode was born into a family of tenant farmers near Seaboard, North Carolina.[1] After arriving in Philadelphia, he graduated from John Bartram High School and then he earned his degree from Morgan State University. He also graduated from the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania.[2]

Service with the Public Utility Commission[edit]

After African-American state senators complained that there had never been an African-American member of the state Public Utility Commission (PUC), Governor Milton Shapp began actively searching for one. His aide, Terry Dellmuth, knew Goode from his community and political activities and recommended him.

As a PUC commissioner, Goode met with community groups around the state, studied relevant issues, compiled what was seen as a pro-consumer record, and forged good working relations with his fellow commissioners. He was soon elevated to the chairmanship of the PUC, where he continued his pro-consumer policies but worked to limit PUC expenditures.

Work in the Office of the Mayor[edit]

Philadelphia Mayor Bill Green, who had been elected in November 1979, had promised to appoint a black managing director after winning a racially divisive Democratic primary against former deputy mayor Charles Bowser. Green kept his promise by appointing Goode as managing director at the urging of key members of the black community.[citation needed]

Mayor of Philadelphia[edit]

Before the primary election of 1983, Green decided not to seek re-election. Goode jumped into the race and defeated former Mayor Frank Rizzo in a racially polarized primary election. Goode went on to win the general election over former Green fund-raiser and Philadelphia Stock Exchange Chairman John Egan, the Republican Party nominee.[citation needed]

Goode's tenure as mayor was marred in 1985 by the MOVE confrontation, in which police attempted to clear a building in West Philadelphia inhabited by a radical back-to-nature group whose members, under the leadership of founder John Africa, had long defied city officials by yelling slogans and statements from a megaphone, ignoring city sanitation codes, assaulting neighbors, and resisting law enforcement officers.[3] During the final assault on the building, the police dropped an improvised bomb made of C-4 plastic explosive and Tovex, an explosive gel used in underwater mining. This caused the house to catch fire, and ignited a massive blaze which eventually consumed almost 4 city blocks, killed 11 people, and left 240 people homeless.

In 1987 Goode ran for re-election, winning the Democratic primary before facing off in the general election against former mayor Frank Rizzo, who had converted to the Republican Party after losing the 1983 Democratic primary to Goode. Goode defeated Rizzo 51%-49% to earn a second term.

Post-mayoral life[edit]

Goode stayed active after leaving office as mayor by holding a position in the U.S. Department of Education. He earned a Doctor of Ministry at Palmer Theological Seminary,[4] and became a minister and professor at Eastern University, as well as a leader of advocacy for faith-based initiatives. He currently serves as CEO of Amachi, a mentoring program for children of incarcerated parents. He was awarded the Purpose Prize, a $100,000 award given to exceptional individuals over age 60 who are working to address critical social problems.


  1. ^ https://oxfordaasc.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780195301731.001.0001/acref-9780195301731-e-35664
  2. ^ "Fels Honors Civic Leaders with Public Leadership Awards at 75th Anniversary Dinner". Fels Institute of Government / University of Pennsylvania. Fels Institute of Government. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  3. ^ Trippett, Frank (June 24, 2001). "It Looks Just Like a War Zone". Time Magazine.
  4. ^ "Reverend Dr. W. Wilson Goode Sr". The Partnership. Retrieved 2008-11-30.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Bill Green, III
Mayor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Ed Rendell