Oct. 9 (UPI) — Montgomery, Ala., has elected Steven Reed as its first African-American mayor.

Reed, a probate judge in Montgomery County, beat David Woods, a TV station owner, in a runoff election with over 67 percent of the vote, according to a preliminary tally released Tuesday by the city with just under 98 percent of the vote counted.

The run-off election against Woods was called after Reed received 42 percent of the vote during the general election in August, falling just shy of the 50 percent required to be named mayor.

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

Reed will be sworn into office Nov. 12, replacing current Mayor Strange Todd, who decided not to seek re-election after some 10 years at the city’s helm.

When Reed takes over, he will become the first black mayor of Montgomery, which was one of only three cities with a population over 100,000 in the area known as the Deep South to have never had a black mayor, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 60 percent of Montgomery’s roughly 200,000 inhabitants are black. And the city, during its 200-year history, has played a central role in some of the United States’ most revolutionary civil rights moments from being the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr. to having been the final stop of the Selma protest marches that helped usher in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that prohibited racial discrimination in voting.

“This is a historic day for our nation,” Southern Poverty Law Center interim President and CEO Karen Baynes-Dunning said in a statement. “The election of Steven Reed, the first black mayor of Montgomery … symbolizes the new inclusive and forward-thinking South that so many have worked to achieve.”

Reed, in his victory speech, said Montogmery is a city of limitless potential and the only thing holding it back is fear.

“When we come together there’s nothing that we can’t accomplish,” he said.

Categories: Wired