DescriptionRev. Lyman Parks was the first, and to date only, African-American to be elected Mayor of Grand Rapids. Parks came to Grand Rapids in 1965 as pastor of the African Methodist Episcopal Church at 500 James Ave. He became involved in community affairs and in 1968, one year after the race riots in Grand Rapids, Parks was elected as the first black city commissioner for the city. In 1971 he was elected mayor and held the post until 1975. He retired from the Grand Rapids church in 1986 and moved to African Methodist Church in the Chicago area until 2000. He and his wife returned to Grand Rapids to be close to his children and grandchildren. Parks passed away in 2009.