Eddie Lowe sworn in as 1st African-American Phenix City mayor - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Eddie Lowe sworn in as 1st African-American Phenix City mayor

Eddie Lowe was sworn in as the first African-American mayor of Phenix City. Eddie Lowe was sworn in as the first African-American mayor of Phenix City.

East Alabama made history Monday as Eddie Lowe was sworn in as the first African-American mayor of Phenix City.

He won by a landslide in August with 64% of the votes - twice as many as any of the three other candidates.

Eddie Lowe is your classic overachiever.

An All-State linebacker at Central High School, he was just 5 foot 10 inches and 180 pounds, too small they said to play at Alabama like bigger brother Woodrow.

After a year at UT-Chattanooga, Eddie rolled the dice and transferred to Tuscaloosa, taking a chance as a walk-on. That included a red-shirt year, no playing, just working and practicing.

"I always said if I can perform the ones, I ought to be getting someone's attention, and so I went out and practiced like I was going to be playing," said Lowe. "I even used to take the projector into our room, and I would run it, and I would go through my steps on my reads."

That work ethic got him playing time as a sophomore, a spot in the starting lineup as a junior. Then as a senior, he came into his own, as Todd Blackledge found out the hard way.

"I think Kenny Jackson was the receiver, and I can't remember who was the inside receiver, but he kind of went out and that widened me on my drop, and so I was just able to pick it off," Lowe said. "That's the only touchdown I ever got through an interception. In my entire career!"

Eddie wound up the team's leading tackler, and was chosen as permanent captain for the 1982 season by head coach Bear Bryant.

"You don't think about all those things then, but when you think about the man he was, and what he did in that type of industry, business, coaching, it's a great honor," Lowe said. "I don't take it lightly now because it's something no one can ever take away from me."

But he was still too small to play pro ball, at least according to the NFL.

The Canadian Football League? That was another matter.

Go North, young man. The Saskatchewan Roughriders had themselves a linebacker.

Nine seasons with the Riders, with the highlight coming in 1989, when Lowe helped the team win the Grey Cup.

"I can tell you, when I first got there, we went through some trying years. But you know, you've got to stick with it and keep your heart in it," Lowe said, "and it worked out. Winning the Grey Cup -- you really can't describe it. It's a great feeling, and when you do that, it's outstanding."

But all things must end, and Eddie called it quits after the 1991 season.

Armed with his finance degree from Alabama and his years of off-season work starting as a teller and moving on up, he began his second career: banking.

And you'd think that like football, banking is a numbers game. Eddie says, not quite.

"You can build a relationship that be lasting forever and that's what I love most about it," Lowe said. "The numbers are important and all of that, but if you're not doing right by people, then the numbers won't come. But if you are, the numbers will come."

Now, Eddie didn't give up football, not all the way. The past 20 years, he's been a volunteer coach at his alma mater, the last two working with the Red Devils new head coach, his older brother Woodrow.

"I want to be an example to them, particularly with the smaller ones as far as teaching them about character, as far as teaching to believe in yourself, and as far as teaching them as far as not giving up," Lowe said. "When you look at the big scheme of things, it's about being the total quality person."

Eddie hasn't just been banking. He spent a decade as president of the Phenix City School Board until his successful run for mayor this fall.

As he begins what might be counted as a third career, he says it all comes down to what he learned playing ball for Bear Bryant.

"The greatest thing I learned from Coach Bryant was how not to be jealous," Lowe said. "See, it's never about you, and I think society has kind of drifted that way. It's always about making people around you look good. If you do that, you're going to be successful because you're on the team. The team looked good, you're going to look good."

Mayor Lowe and a brand new city council wasted no time: they had a three-hour work session Monday afternoon, and will have their first council meeting Tuesday.

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