The people of Montgomery, Ala., the first capital of the Confederacy, have elected their first African-American mayor in the city’s 200-year history.

Steven Reed, Montgomery County probate judge, defeated local TV station owner David Woods in a runoff election Oct. 8. Reed received more than 32,900 votes to Woods’ 16,000, with 98% of precincts reporting.

During the general election in August, Reed received 42 percent of the vote, taking the majority, but because he did not attain more than 50 percent, the election went to a run-off between him and Woods, a Montgomery businessman and owner of Fox affiliate WCOV-TV.

Reed will replace current mayor Todd Strange, who after a decade of service did not seek reelection.

About 60% of Montgomery’s 200,000 residents are African American, according to the U.S. Census. About 50,000 people voted.

During his campaign, Reed spoke of increasing Montgomery’s police force, increasing support for schools, and bringing in more jobs that offer a livable wage. He received endorsements from Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox and U.S. senator and presidential candidate Kamala Harris.

Reed became Montgomery County’s first Black probate judge (as well as its youngest) in 2012. He was re-elected without opposition in 2018.

Reed is the son of Joe Reed, the longtime leader of the Alabama Democratic Conference, which is the Black caucus of the Alabama Democratic Party.

Montgomery is Alabama’s second-largest city and was the site of Rosa Parks’ arrest in 1955, the famed Montgomery Bus Boycott and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, as well as the destination of the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery protest marches that met with brutal police violence and led to the Voting Rights Act.

The nation’s first memorial to the more than 4,000 victims of lynchings, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, opened last year in Montgomery.

Longtime resident Diana Stokes Williams told CNN she had marched during the civil rights movement, been through segregation and was “very aware of the prejudice that has existed in her community.”

“Coming from Montgomery … where there’s been a lot, Alabama’s been full of lot of prejudice , and to go from (former Alabama Gov.) George Wallace to Reed would be a major step.”

Williams said she voted in every election and it is important to have someone who looks like Reed represent the community.

She said as a Black man, Reed has a greater perspective on life in Montgomery and can see both sides. She added that she hoped Reed would represent all races.

Sources: WSFA 12 News and CNN

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