Montgomery, Ala., now has its first Black mayor in history after Steven Reed was sworn into office on Tuesday morning in the city that birthed the civil rights movement.
Reed was sworn into office at the Montgomery Performing Arts Centre, the Montgomery Advertiser reported, because so many people wanted to attend that City Hall wouldn’t have been big enough. Around 3,000 people, including about 22 other mayors, attended the event.
“Loyalty, faith and perseverance are the pillars that have built this community. Let us mark this day in remembrance of who we are and how far we’ve come. We have a duty to ourselves in this society. This is the meaning of living our creed,” Reed said in his inauguration speech. “This is why the son whose parents were not even served in a local restaurant just up the street, and whose father led sit in protests for equal treatment under the law can now take this oath and help write laws that apply equally to all.”
Montgomery’s population is more than half Black and also saw the famous march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 as well as Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus 10 years earlier.
Now, the city finally has a Black mayor, along with four Black council members, the Advertiser reported.
“We have a chance to make Montgomery big and bold. Big and bold,” said Joe Reed, Reed’s father, in a speech at the inauguration. “I’ll say to my son Steven, yes, you’re the leader for the city. You will set the tone. You will really set the image.”
But becoming mayor is not Reed’s first success. He has been a champion of equal rights before.
Reed became Montgomery County’s first African American probate judge in 2012, according to the Advertiser, and he was the first judge in the state to issue a same-sex marriage license several years later in 2015.