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Montgomery elected its first black mayor in 200 years. This is why it matters

by ace
Montgomery elected its first black mayor in 200 years. This is why it matters

"Let's show the record tonight, above all … what can we do when we gather in this city and build around positivity, opportunity and all the things that unite us against the things that separate us," Reed told supporters at a rally turned victory party.

Alabama's second largest city is a city of contrasts. Although it is the cradle of the civil rights movement, it was also the first capital of the Confederation early in the Civil War, and many streets and schools still have Confederate names. Just last year, the nation's first memorial to more than 4,000 lynching victims was opened in Montgomery.

Residents stunned with historic victory

Montgomery resident Janay Smith, 48, said her heart has not stopped racing since Reed won.

"I am a lifelong resident of Montgomery. My family, I am about four generations of activists and community leaders. Many of those who came before me are now dead and have not had a chance to see this. But I am so proud of my city, "said Smith. "… My city, Montgomery, Alabama, a place known for racial tension, actually came together and did something positive and historic."

Sixty percent of Montgomery's roughly 200,000 inhabitants are black or African American, according to US census.

Tiffany Pickens, 31, said the city was never represented to reflect its demographics.

"Tonight is important, as a person of color, from a place with Montgomery's history, to see the city being represented by a person who shares values ​​and understands the history of the city and who understands the struggle of that space. Big deal. .. makes me feel the way I felt when I saw President Obama take office. "

Many people never thought this day would come, Pickens said.

"It was something you never understand, but wait, never really expect to see. And I saw it."

Dorsey Nelson, 67, born and raised in Montgomery, said he hopes the new mayor will continue to build on the progress made by the previous one.

"Not only that, it will bring this city together, black and white people. I mean, it's like – I know I use the term black simply because it's black, but let's not measure it by its color. Let's measure it by what he does for the city of Montgomery, "he said.

The feeling was not limited to African Americans only.

"I'm a woman. I'm white. I live in Montgomery, Alabama and I voted for Steven Reed," said Elizabeth Woodson, 26. "… I grew up in Connecticut. I live in Montgomery since the beginning of last year. It was an obvious logical and correct choice. Reed is extremely knowledgeable but most importantly … he represents the majority of the city and democracy is about so I think it's very important. "

With about 98% of districts reporting, according to the Montgomery County Electoral Center, Reed got 32,511 votes, while Woods got 15,891 votes.

Reed and Woods received the most votes in August in the town's 12-person primaries, leading to Tuesday's runoff. In that vote, Reed got 42%, while Woods earned about 25%, CNN affiliate WSFA reported.

Todd Strange, mayor of Montgomery since 2009, was not running for reelection.

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