When Angela Okafor went knocking on doors in Bangor this campaign season, she had a routine. She would ring the doorbell, take a few steps back and put her political palm card — which had her campaign information and photo on it — next to her face. She would be careful to keep both her hands where people could see them when they opened the door.
“It was an instinct that, I’m a person of color, I need to keep my hands visible,” she said.
As a black immigrant woman from Nigeria campaigning for a seat on the City Council in a city that’s 90 percent white, Okafor had to be aware that some people would treat her with suspicion when they saw her walking around their neighborhoods or knocking on doors.
One time, a resident sent a message to the neighborhood Facebook group explaining to her neighbors that Okafor was not a threat and that she was just campaigning door to door.
On Tuesday, voters elected Okafor to the City Council, marking the first time a person of color has held public office in Bangor, according to historians and longtime Bangor residents.
Okafor was one of four candidates of color running for local office in the Bangor area this year.
All four were elected, marking a historic shift toward diversity in town and city governments.