The capital city of Alabama and the Alabama city considered the capital of American professional race car driving both elected Black men to be mayors in their cities for the first time ever.
In Montgomery, Alabama, probate judge and Morehouse man Steven Reed was elected the town’s CEO for the first time in Montgomery’s nearly 200-year history, the New York Times reports.
About 90 minutes north of Montgomery, the city of Talladega elected Timothy Ragland as their first African-American mayor during a very close runoff. At 29, Ragland is also the youngest mayor to ever govern that small, but famous city known for race car driving.
In Montgomery, Reed took home 67 percent of the vote in the runoff election, the New York Times reported. Reed defeated David Woods, a white businessman and TV station owner.
“The vision we have for people [is] far beyond this room,” he said, according to AL.com. “Some of the people … could not be here, but it encompasses and it connects all of them. And that’s what we have been saying and that’s what we want to make sure we continue tomorrow, and the next day and the next day. Because that is what is going to define this city. And that’s what’s going to define this election.”
This news is especially notable because Montgomery was the first capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War era. It is also considered the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement which began officially in 1955 with Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and the momentous Montgomery Bus Boycott.
“It’s not going to be about the first. It’s not even going to be about the best. It’s going to be about the impact that we make on the lives of others,” the Times reports Reed saying.
Ragland told ABC 33/40 that he was overwhelmed when he got word that he’d won the hotly-contested race in Talladega.
“It’s a great honor that the people of Talladega thought enough of me to allow me to be, to make this a historic run, and I’m so thankful to them, and I can’t wait to get to work on behalf of the citizens of Talladega,” Ragland told WBRC shortly after arriving at city hall.
Ragland defeated Mayor Jerry Cooper by the slimmest of margins, 23 votes, during the runoff election.
“My number one priority is transparency. People need to know what’s going on in their government,” Ragland said about issues he plans to address, according to WRBC. “Second, [is] community, and building a stronger community in Talladega.”
See the complete reports on the two history-making Black men below: