Monday, 30th October 2017

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Alabama city elects first black mayor, Steven Reed

“This election has never been about me,” mayor-elect Reed said in his victory speech

By Reuters in New York
  • Published 10.10.19, 12:29 AM
  • Updated 10.10.19, 12:29 AM
  • a min read
Mayor-elect Steven Reed delivers his victory speech in Montgomery, Alabama (Jake Crandall/Montgomery Advertiser via AP)

Montgomery, the capital of the southern US state of Alabama, known as the birthplace of the civil rights movement for its 1950s bus boycotts over segregated seating, has elected the first black mayor in its 200-year history.

Steven Reed, a county probate judge who is black, defeated David Woods, a white businessman who owns a regional television station, unofficial results posted online by the city show, by winning 67 per cent of the vote in a nonpartisan runoff.

Media photographs online showed Reed supporters holding up campaign T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan, “We made history”, in the city of about 200,000, about 60 per cent of whom are African American, according to the US Census Bureau.

“This election has never been about me,” mayor-elect Reed said in his victory speech late on Tuesday, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

“This election has never been about just my ideas. It’s been about all the hopes and dreams we have as individuals and collectively in this city.”

Reed’s victory came in a city still getting to terms with its past. It was the first capital of the Confederate States of America in 1861.

Last year, the Equal Justice Initiative opened the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum in downtown Montgomery to honour victims of lynching in the racially segregated era after the US Civil War.

The city is the site of the Montgomery bus boycott, a year-long civil rights protest that started in 1955, led by black seamstress Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat to a white patron and was famously jailed.