Selma names street after city’s first African-American Police Chief

Published 10:48 am Tuesday, June 2, 2020

The City of Selma has honored its first African-American Police Chief.

Cole Street was renamed Earnest L. Tate Street on Feb. 11 at a city council meeting. The street was officially changed several days ago. The council voted for the name change during its Jan. 28 meeting.

Tate, who became city’s first black police chief in 1997, said he’s thrilled at the honor. He thanked Council President Corey Bowie and Councilman John Leashore for helping with the name change.

“I feel good about the street name, it’s a blessing that I’m still here to see it,” Tate said. “I’m grateful to the neighbors and community.”

Leashore credited Tate’s wife Norma Tate, for playing a huge role in the name change. Norma Tate got signatures from 99 percent of their neighbors to sign a petition. She handed it Leashore, who read the proclamation at the Feb. 11 meeting.

“Earnest Tate is a man who served 37 years of public service and it’s been a long time to recognize him,” Leashore said.

Norma Tate, who has been married to Tate for over 55 years, said she appreciates the community support.

“I’m blessed and we’re glad to see that a street was named after my husband,” Norma Tate. “I appreciate Councilman Leashore and Council President Bowie and the community.”

Tate moved to Selma in 1957 and was hired by the SPD as the department’s fourth black officer; he was promoted to sergeant in 1971 and then to lieutenant in 1977; by 1994, he was promoted to shift commander and, a year later, to assistant chief before becoming chief.