The city of Montgomery swore in Steven Reed on Tuesday as its first Black mayor.
According to the Montgomery Advertiser, nearly two dozen mayors from around the country and an estimated 3,000 other people came to witness Reed’s milestone inauguration in the Southern city famous as both the birthplace of the civil rights movement and “the cradle of the Confederacy.”
“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,” Reed said in his inauguration speech, the Advertiser reported. “We have a duty to ourselves in this society. This is the meaning of living our creed.”
Reed won the mayoral election in an Oct. 8 runoff against David Woods, a television station owner. The new mayor replaces Todd Strange, who was not running for reelection.
Reed’s election win is historic in the majority-Black city’s 200-year history. About 60% of Montgomery’s population is Black, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Reed was also Montgomery County’s first Black probate judge, having served in that position since 2012.
“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,” Reed said Tuesday, according to the Advertiser.
Montgomery was integral to the civil rights and voting rights movements, hosting the famous bus boycott of 1955 to desegregate the city’s public transit system after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat for a white man. The city faced violent clashes in 1961 when a mob attacked Freedom Riders at a Greyhound bus station. Four years later, Montgomery was the final destination of the famous four-day voting rights march from Selma, Alabama.
Martin Luther King Jr. also gained popularity while he was a pastor in Montgomery, helping to organize the bus boycott and lead the nationwide civil rights movement that resulted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.