Denver honored former mayor Wellington Webb in style Tuesday as hundreds joined Mayor Michael Hancock for the unveiling of a new sculpture at the municipal building that also bears Webb’s name.
The bronze is called “The Walk of Mayor Wellington E. Webb” and was created by well-known Denver sculptor Ed Dwight.
Webb carved a unique and historic path in Denver as the city’s first African-American mayor, a post he was elected to for three terms.
The former mayor spoke at length about his life and the values that drove him.
“I believe in God,” he said. “I believe in family. I believe in community. I believe in public service. I believe in tolerance and inclusion. I believe in creating opportunities for others. I believe in personal responsibility.”
And he told the crowd, filled with former aides, colleagues and city workers, “I always believe we, the people at Denver, there’s nothing we can’t do when we do it to together.”
Webb was saluted by his wife, Wilma J. Webb.
“Wellington, you fabulous, fantastic, beautiful, smart, intelligent, and ladies would say handsome And quite a leader,” said Webb, who served as a state representative for 13 years. “And I’m very proud of you.”
“It’s a significant event,” Hancock said. “Wellington Webb has done so much for our city, you know, not only when he served, but continues to do great things for our city, but we stand on his shoulders.”
The former mayor donned a pair of distinctive high top sneakers, a nod to his 1991 bid for mayor, known as the “Sneaker Campaign,” when he walked door to door through much of the city introducing himself to voters as a relatively unknown candidate.
“On behalf of the people here today, who are from all walks of life and joined you in your walk of walks for people, we honor you. And we thank you,” said the city’s former first lady.
Webb traced his life and political career from the early days, when he played basketball and attended Manual High School, to his election as a state representative, city auditor and later mayor. He singled out friends, those who backed his campaigns and government workers.
“The government doesn’t run without them. And it actually runs better when you trust them and let them do the job as opposed to contracting everything else out,” he said.
Webb also spoke about family members who influenced him, including his children and his grandmother, and saluted the next generation of his family.
“We know you will carry on the family tradition of always identifying yourself as we are, proud of who we are,” he said. “We’re proud of being black. We’re proud of being raised here in Denver. We’re proud of being mayor of the city. And we’re proud of the resilience and tenacity.”
Webb’s time in office was one of the most consequential in the city’s history. His administration played a pivotal role in creating, funding, managing or improving many city resources, from the Denver International Airport to the Colorado Convention Center to the Denver Health Authority to the Platte River Corridor to many parks, museums and stadiums.
Bronze tablets next to the sculpture list names of members of Webb’s cabinet and administration during his tenure as mayor from 1991 to 2003.
The statue and bronze tablets were funded through donations.