Oct 9, 2019

Montgomery voters elect first black mayor in city's 200-year history

The flag of Alabama below the U.S. flag fly over a Montgomery Statehouse.

Photo: Elijah Nouvelage for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Montgomery, Alabama, made history on Tuesday when voters elected Steven Reed, the city's first black mayor in more than 200 years, with an overwhelming majority.

Why it matters: Reed's victory is a milestone for a city that has navigated the remarkable duality of being the first capital of the Confederacy before it became the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement.

Background: Montgomery, which is almost 60% black or African American, was the site of the bus boycotts led by Rosa Parks and the Selma to Montgomery Marches led by Dr. Martin Luther King, which ultimately led to the Voting Rights Act.

Reed graduated from Morehouse College, a historically black college in Atlanta, and received his M.B.A. at Vanderbilt University before becoming the first black probate judge in Montgomery County, according to Time.

What they're saying:

  • Reed told the Montgomery Advertiser: "I take that with a great deal of humility and a great deal of responsibility, what that means to so many people who have been a part of Montgomery who have lived here and left here because of the racial terror they underwent and moved far, far away."
  • Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) tweeted: "Congratulations @stevenlouisreed on making history in Montgomery tonight. The birthplace of the civil rights movement has a new era of leadership for the first time in its 200-year history. Montgomery is in good hands."
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