Fayette County

Lexington's first black city commissioner to be honored Thursday

Harry Sykes, Lexington's first black city commissioner, will be honored at Thursday's council meeting by Mayor Jim Gray and the Urban County Council.

Sykes was first elected in 1963 and served four consecutive terms on the council. Over a span of several years, Sykes also served as mayor pro-tem, city manager and chief administrative officer. He ran for mayor in 1971, losing to Foster Pettit.

Sykes once played for the Harlem Globetrotters and taught mathematics at the old Dunbar High School. "But most of all, he was a Lexington government official and civic leader," said councilman Tom Blues, who paid tribute to Sykes at a council work session Tuesday.

In addition to his government work, Sykes worked on numerous boards and commissions, was a co-founder of the Lexington-Fayette County Urban League and was its first president. Among his honors was receiving the Outstanding Citizens Award by the Council of Christians and Jews in 1969.

A reception will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday in the lobby of the Government Center. The reception is open to the public. At the council meeting, starting at 6 p.m., the mayor will declare Thursday Harry Sykes Day in Lexington.

Sykes' son, Kevin, said his father, who is 85, hopes to attend the reception and council meeting.