Friends, family and admirers of Lee M. Taliaferro packed the Darby Township Public Library on Hook Rd. recently to celebrate the renaming of the building in his honor; a recognition that came after decades of consistent and dedicated service to the township.
Taliaferro’s public service career included 20 years as fire marshal and service on the Board of Commissioners. “During those years is when I really got involved politically and became interested in the politics of the township,” said Taliaferro. “It was at that time that I’d seen a lot of situations in the township which I felt were not going properly and I felt I could possibly help out to do things politically.”
In 1981, Taliaferro, a Democrat, was elected a township commissioner, a post he held for 16 years. He also served as chairman of the local Democratic Party and a judge of elections at the polls. Taliaferro attributes his “overwhelming” public record to years of building close bonds with residents. “I brought more attention I believe to the position and I think I was closer to the people in the community and the constituents.”
Although Taliaferro spent years representing the entire township regardless of race or ward, he still feels a divide between the township’s predominately Black first and second wards and its predominately white third, fourth and fifth wards.
At one point, he said, a contingent of Black Darby Township residents wanted to secede from the rest of the township and form a new municipality like Darby, Folcroft and others. He reflected, “All that time, I think I was able to instill in people and the community that things could change. This community was, and still is to a certain degree, a divided community politically and racially. We felt we were not being treated properly. If this community (were) a community as a…
For more of this article, please see the current edition of the SPIRIT.