Montgomery, cradle of the Civil Rights movement, elects first Black mayor

Montgomery Mayor-elect Steven Reed (WAKA-TV)

Montgomery, Ala., has widely been considered the birthplace of the modern American Civil Rights movement since the bus boycott of 1955. But more than six decades after that historical event, the city has elected its first Black mayor.

According to the BBC, Tuesday, county probate judge Steven Reed, beat local TV station owner David Woods during a run-off that had Reed claiming victory with a decisive majority vote of 67%.

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Reed’s victory is being hailed as not just a win for him but also an historic day for the city, which was the first capital of the slave-owning Confederate States of America in the 1800s.

In stark contrast, this week’s results show the tide is changing in Montgomery, which is currently a predominantly Black city that will finally have it’s first African-American mayor in its 200 year history.

As the BBC notes, “Montgomery is where the bus boycott movement, led by African-American activist Rosa Parks, originated in 1955, paving the way for broader civil rights demands.”

Reed, who ran on a platform promoting unity believes his victory shows, “what we can do when we come together in this city and we build around positivity.”

“This election has never been about just my ideas,” he continued in his victory speech. “It’s been about all of the hopes and dreams that we have as individuals and collectively in the city.”

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Reed beat out a dozen other candidates in the primaries before ultimately defeating Woods in the run-off. Working in his favor is the fact that he was born in Montgomery, and earned a BA from Morehouse College and an MBA from Vanderbilt University before becoming a financial analyst.

This week’s election is also not his first time making history in his home town. In 2012, he was the first Black man to be elected as a probate judge for Montgomery County. Then in 2015 he became the first probate judge in Alabama to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

He is expected to be sworn in as mayor at Montgomery City Hall in November.