Donald V. Watkins
Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed: It's Been A Long Time Coming
Updated: Oct 14, 2019
By Claire Larson, guest contributor
©Copyrighted and Published on October 13, 2019
This was a historically significant week in Alabama history. For the first time in its 200-year history, Montgomery elected its first African-American mayor. Steven Reed won the election in a runaway landslide garnering 67% of the votes cast. Reed is currently a probate judge in Montgomery County and was also the first African-American elected in Montgomery County to that position. Donald Watkins states, “I have known Steven Reed all of his life. He was groomed for leadership since childhood. It is no surprise that he went from the first African-American probate judge in Montgomery County to the City of Montgomery's first black mayor. Steven is well-respected and well-liked by many political factions around the state. This is a historic moment for Montgomery -- the Cradle of the Confederacy and Heart of Dixie. It is only fitting that the City's first African-American mayor comes from a family that has been dedicated to the advancement of civil and political rights for blacks in the state.”
Reed has not limited himself solely to the advancement of African-American citizens in Montgomery County. He has also worked diligently for other groups that have been traditionally disenfranchised in the South. During the 2015 same-sex marriage ban mêlée, Reed proved that he would uphold Constitutional law rather than popular opinion stating, “We’re a nation of laws, not of men, and so we are sworn to uphold an oath in the probate court and that’s what we do, we uphold the oath as it relates to the state constitution and the U.S. constitution. And so we understand that we can’t bring politics and personal feelings into decisions that we make day-to-day.” Reed was the first Alabama probate judge to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. He follows the law rather than looking for creative ways to skirt it.
Reed comes from a very accomplished and respected African-American family. He is smart, strong, unbiased, and forward-thinking receiving a degree in Business Administration, cum laude, from Morehouse College while balancing studies with football and his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi. Reed then pursued his MBA at Vanderbilt. His father, Dr. Joe Reed, was one of the first blacks on the Montgomery city council. Dr. Reed has been a champion for civil rights for more than seven decades. Watkins wrote about the elder Reed and his many contributions to the community in an earlier article: https://www.facebook.com/1297783899/posts/10210791309360975?sfns=mo
The younger Reed is no stranger to state politics either, having served as senior aide to Lieutenant Governor, Jim Folsom, Jr. During that time, he worked on several initiatives involving education and economic growth. He has also continued to assist his community serving on the boards of River Region United Way, Britton YMCA and the Metro Board of the Montgomery Area YMCA. He coaches YMCA football on a volunteer basis as well. Prior to getting involved in politics, Reed worked for a management consulting firm and ran his own business. He has the experience to merge business with politics and get Montgomery moving.
As Watkins states, “It will be a long time before the state's African-American community will see another black politician with the courage, work ethic, and intestinal fortitude of Steven Reed. There is no one else on the black political scene who is in Steven's league. Montgomery will be well-served under Steven's leadership. Steven will make us proud, again. He is 'unbought' and 'unbossed'. Plus, his personal and professional integrity is beyond reproach. For the first time since Dr. Richard Arrington, Jr., became mayor of Birmingham in 1979, the African-American community in Alabama has a strong mayor who will champion education, economic empowerment, equal justice, and participatory democracy in one of the state's major urban areas."
He predicts Steven Reed will emerge as a national leader because of the dearth of strong leaders in the African-American community.
In 1619, the first slaves were brought to this country. In 1819, the city of Montgomery was founded. In 2019, the first African-American was elected as mayor. Things are going in the right direction for African-Americans in Montgomery. With Reed at the helm, things should start to move a little faster.
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