Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Clarence H. "Du" Burns (1918-2003)
MSA SC 3520-12490


Born Clarence Henry Burns, September 13, 1918, in Baltimore, Maryland. Son of Clarence and Selena Burns. Attended Baltimore City public schools; Larry London Music School. Staff sergeant, U.S. Army, World War II. Married Edith Phillips. One daughter, Cheryl Turner. Died January 12, 2003, in Baltimore, Maryland. Buried, New Cathedral Cemetery, Baltimore, Maryland.

Burns was Baltimore's first black council president and its first black mayor.  He was a member of the Baltimore City Council for the 2nd District and council president after Walter Orlinksy stepped down in 1982.  He became mayor in 1987 to fill the unexpired term of William Donald Schaefer following his election as governor and held the position for ten months before the next election in the fall of 1987.  In that election, Burns ran for mayor against state's attorney Kurt L. Schmoke, losing in a close race where polls had shown earlier that Schmoke had been as much as 30 points ahead of Burns during the campaign.  Burns ran again for mayor in 1991 but was unsuccessful.  He was a founding member of the Women's Democratic Campaign Committee of Maryland in 1946, and later became the president of Eastside Democratic Organization (EDO) of East Baltimore.

The Clarence H. Du Burns Soccer Arena in Canton is named in his honor.  In 1997 Burns was honored in the Rising Sun Baptist Church's second tribute to Baltimore seniors.  His official portrait was painted by Nathaniel Gibbs and hangs in City Hall in Baltimore along with other mayors of the city.

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