NewsBlack History Month


Story of first Black firefighter in Kern County

First Black firefighter Wilson Macke
Posted at 9:51 PM, Feb 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-26 02:23:42-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — As we continue to highlight stories of Black history in our community.

We wanted to share the story of one of the first Black firefighters here in Kern.

Wilson Mackey was from Bakersfield and was a Kern firefighter for 21 years, during a time of racial segregation and discrimination. Stanley Mackey says he is proud of his father’s story and wants to share his legacy.

“That’s my dad, that’s Wilson Mackey.”

Stanley Mackey is a retired corrections officer but, in this story, he’s a proud son.

“He’d tell you stories, he used to write jokes for the newspaper, that Bakersfield Observer. So, he was the kind of person that you loved to be around him because he just kept you smiling, kept you laughing.”

His father was also more than that. Wilson Mackey served in the military, was a boxer, and a Kern County firefighter from 1952 to 1973.

“He was one of the few Black firemen in Bakersfield.”

With that came challenges.

“He worked in a segregated fire station during that time, but they did not allow the Black firemen to work with the white firemen so, they segregated them.”

Wilson Mackey was stationed at Minter Field in Shafter.

“They put the Black firemen there because, in that particular fire department, they would be subject to putting out fires of airplanes that would crash from the airport that was next to them. It was not one of the places that was a nice place to work so to speak.”

Stanley remembers watching his dad as he was growing up.

“We were proud of my dad, he would be in uniform, and they would shine these big fire trucks and boy, it was exciting.”

Katherine Jordan is a historian and retired teacher, and she says it’s important to preserve these pieces of history to help inspire people.

“Great to see firefighters that had the same color skin that we have. So, it gave us hope for our young boys that became men. It gave us hope, even for the girls to have the dream of being successful.”

Wilson Mackey passed away in 1991, but Stanley Mackey continues to share his story.

“I love talking about my dad because it makes me smile, makes me feel proud, makes me feel that, you know what, this is why I do this, I understand.”

Stanley also said his dad faced this division during his military service and worked to overcome that and serve during World War II.

Black History Month
Black History Month

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