Steven Reed won a runoff election this week to become the first Black mayor of Montgomery, Alabama, since the city’s founding in 1819.
Reed, elected in 2012 as a probate judge in Montgomery County, garnered 67 percent of the vote in the mayoral runoff, overwhelmingly defeating television station owner David Woods by more than 16,000 votes. He became the first African American and youngest person ever elected mayor in city history.
“Let the record show tonight, above all … what we can do when we come together in this city and we build around positivity, around opportunity, and all the things that tie us together versus those things that keep us apart,” Reed, 45, told supporters at a victory party.
Montgomery is a majority-Black city but had been one of three cities with a population over 100,000 in the Deep South that had never elected a Black mayor, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.
During the campaign, Reed, one of 10 Black candidates and a graduate of Morehouse College and Vanderbilt University, built his campaign on helping the poorest communities in the city — also known as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s hometown and the site of protests and marches, the iconic 1955–56 Montgomery Bus Boycott and where Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man.
Reed’s congratulatory comments included a tweet from politicians such as Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris, who wrote, “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.”