Wilmot Collins didn’t leave Liberia until he was 31, but his is the most American of stories.

On Tuesday, the 54-year-old former refugee of a civil war, community activist and progressive political newcomer who wants affordable housing and solutions for teen homelessness, was elected mayor of Helena, Montana’s capital. It’s a historic feat that turned heads around the country; he is believed to be the first black man elected mayor since Montana became a state.

In an interview Wednesday, Collins said he didn’t envision a future in politics when he was petitioning for US refugee status more than two decades ago, working to join his wife who moved to Montana two years ahead of him to study.

“I never thought about it,” said Collins, exhausted but exhilarated. “My only thing was, I hope they can give me a second chance. That’s all I needed. This country and this state and this city provided me a second chance.”

Wilmot Collins, African American Politics, Montana Government, Montana African American Mayor, Helena Mayor, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNThom Bridge/A | Photo Credit


The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. It was established by Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans. To date, the Museum has collected more than 36,000 artifacts and nearly 100,000 individuals have become charter members. The Museum opened to the public on September 24, 2016, as the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution. (Website).

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KOLUMN Magazine celebrates the lives of People of Color by giving our world texture.