Wilhelmina Rolark

Wilhelmina J. Rolark (September 17, 1916 – February 14, 2006)[1] was a Democratic politician and activist in Washington, D.C. She was elected as Ward 8 member of the Council of the District of Columbia in 1976 and served four terms.[2]

Rolark was president of The Washington Informer, a weekly newspaper in Washington, D.C., founded by her husband, Calvin W. Rolark, Sr., in 1964.[3] The paper is now published by her stepdaughter, Denise Rolark Barnes.

Political career

In 1974, after the passage of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act created the Council of the District of Columbia, Rolark ran to be the first Ward 8 member. She lost the Democratic primary to James Coates by fewer than 100 votes[1] and later announced that she would run a write-in campaign against him in the November election.[4] Her campaign was unsuccessful.

Rolark came back in 1976 (the first Ward 8 term after the council's creation was only two years) and defeated Coates in the primary.[5] He in turn launched his own write-in campaign for November,[6] which was also unsuccessful. Rolark became Ward 8 council member on January 2, 1977. She went on to be reelected in 1980, 1984, and 1988.

In 1992, former mayor Marion Barry, recently released from prison, challenged Rolark in the Democratic primary and won in a 3-to-1 landslide.[7] Rolark's time on the council came to an end on January 2, 1993, after 16 years.


Preceded by
James Coates
Ward 8 Member, Council of the District of Columbia
Succeeded by
Marion Barry