Steven Reed: Civil rights birthplace Montgomery elects first black mayor – BBC News

Steven Reed, a county probate judge, has become Montgomery's first elected black mayor in its 200-year historyImage copyright
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Steven Reed, a county probate judge, has become Montgomery’s first elected black mayor in its 200-year history

The capital of Alabama, the city where the US civil rights movement was born, has elected the first black mayor in its 200-year history.

Steven Reed, a county probate judge, beat local TV station owner David Woods by a decisive majority to become mayor of Montgomery.

Mr Reed won 67% of the 48,979 votes cast in Tuesday’s run-off, according to preliminary results.

The 45-year-old is expected to be sworn in at Montgomery City Hall in November.

Mr Reed’s victory has been hailed as a historic day for the city, which was the first capital of the slave-owning Confederate States of America in the 1800s.

Now a majority-black city, Montgomery is where the bus boycott movement, led by African-American activist Rosa Parks, originated in 1955, paving the way for broader civil rights demands.

After running on a platform of unity, Mr Reed said his victory showed “what we can do when we come together in this city and we build around positivity”.

“This election has never been about just my ideas,” Mr Reed said in his victory speech. “It’s been about all of the hopes and dreams that we have as individuals and collectively in the city.”

Mr Reed knocked out 12 other candidates in the primaries before defeating Mr Woods in the run-off.

Todd Strange, who has served as Montgomery’s mayor since 2009, had decided not to run for re-election.

Who is Steven Reed?

Born in Montgomery, Mr Reed earned a BA from Morehouse College and an MBA from Vanderbilt University before becoming a financial analyst.

In 2012, he was elected as a probate judge for Montgomery County, the first black man to hold that position.

Two years later in 2015, he became the first probate judge in Alabama to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

His father, Joe Reed, has been the long-time leader of the black caucus of Alabama’s Democratic Party.

Why is Montgomery so important?

Ms Parks, a black seamstress who was arrested after refusing to give up her bus seat to a white passenger, was instrumental in setting the movement in motion.

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Corbis

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Ms Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man

Her arrest triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system organised by Martin Luther King Jr. The protest led to the desegregation of the transport system.

The US Supreme Court ultimately ordered Montgomery to integrate its bus system.

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