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Birthplace of civil rights movement Montgomery elects first black mayor in 200 years

October 09, 2019 at 09:28 am | News

Theodora Aidoo

Theodora Aidoo | Staff Writer

October 09, 2019 at 09:28 am | News

Steven Reed. Pic Credit: USA News Hub

A county probate judge Steven Reed has made history as the first black mayor of Montgomery in the city’s 200-year history.

Reed defeated white businessman David Woods by a margin of 67 per cent vote in a run-off, according to results.

For a city of about 200,000 – 60 per cent of whom are African-American – Reed’s victory is a big deal.

His father, Joe Reed, reportedly led the black caucus of the Alabama Democratic Party for many years while his opponent, Woods, who owns WCOV-TV, is the son of the late broadcasting executive Charles Woods. Charles was an Alabama candidate for more than 30 years.

Reed’s victory came at a time when the city is still learning to live with its past. It was the first capital of the Confederate States of America in 1861.

The capital of the southern U.S. state of Alabama, Montgomery is known as the birthplace of the civil rights movement for its 1950s bus boycotts over segregated seating.

45-year-old Reed is also the first black probate judge elected in Montgomery County and one of the first to issue marriage licenses to gay couples in the state.

Besides the city’s key role in the civil rights movement, its City Hall is located not far from the church once led by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and is also near the spot where Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to obey bus segregation laws.

The U.S. Supreme Court eventually ordered Montgomery to integrate its bus system. To honour victims of lynching in the racially segregated era after the U.S. Civil War, in 2018, the Equal Justice Initiative opened the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum in Montgomery.

Apart from Rosa Parks, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the boycott leaders was who emerged as the most prominent leader of the American civil rights movement.

Reed will replace current Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange, who has served since 2009 and did not seek reelection.

“We’re a city that wants to move forward and a city that wants a vision for the future, and a city that wants to see better opportunities across the board,” Reed told The Associated Press.

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