Ella Jones just made history as the city of Ferguson, Missouri’s first African American black mayor. The election took place as protesters filled the streets of U.S. cities, rallying against racism and police brutality faced by many black communities.
She beat fellow council member Heather Robinett on Tuesday in the non-partisan election for a three-year term that starts later this month.
Jones, 65, won with 54 per cent of the vote and will become St Louis, Missouri suburb’s first Black mayor and its first female mayor. “It’s just our time,” Jones said in an interview with the St Louis Post-Dispatch on Tuesday night. “It’s just my time to do right by the people.”
“People from the seniors to the young people understand that my goal is for us to be one – for us to work together,” Jones said, according to St. Louis Public Radio. Asked what her election means for Ferguson’s Black residents, she responded: “One word: inclusion.”
Reacting to her historic victory she said: “That means I got work to do. Because when you’re the first African American woman, they require more of you than they require of my counterparts.”
She said she is ready to work together with others to help to stabilize the community. Jones has been a resident of Ferguson for more than 40 years. She is a pastor in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She has also worked as a chemist.
According to her campaign biography, she has served on the Ferguson city council since 2015, when she was elected as its first African-American member.
The City of Ferguson served as the nation’s epicentre for protests against law enforcement six years ago. In 2014 protests of the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown brought the city into the national spotlight.
Brown, a young black man was killed by a white police officer. This resulted in protests in Ferguson that led to days of clashes between police and demonstrators.
The city helped intensify the Black Lives Matter movement with the death of Black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida two years earlier and the acquittal of the neighbourhood watch volunteer who shot him.
After a U.S. Justice Department investigation into Brown’s death, the city passed a federal consent decree in 2016, that resulted in widespread policing and municipal court reforms, community policing efforts, hiring more minority officers and improved policies in areas such as the use of body cameras and search-and-seizure practices.