On the Friday before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Washington Post global opinions editor Karen Attiah will speak with Mayor Steven L. Reed, Montgomery, Ala., and Mayor Randall Woodfin, Birmingham, Ala. Their cities were central battlegrounds in the civil rights era. Reed and Woodfin are part of a new wave of Black mayors elected in Southern Black cities in the past decade. Tune in Friday, Jan. 15 at 11:00 a.m. ET, for a conversation about the arc of history and where we are today.


Montgomery Mayor Steven L. Reed

Steven L. Reed became the 57th mayor of the city of Montgomery on November 12, 2019. That day, he made history, becoming the first Black mayor in Montgomery, Alabama’s 200-years. Mayor Reed earned more than 60 percent of vote, in a coalition that spanned race, age, gender and income level.

Proving to be the right leader at the right time, Mayor Reed faced a multitude of unprecedented challenges in his first year in office. In spite of these circumstances, Mayor Reed sought opportunity and is advancing an agenda that deals with the community’s most pressing issues and puts Montgomery on-track to become a leader in the New South. In fact, he has already successfully tackled the decades-long call to increase investment in Montgomery’s public schools by building a diverse coalition of community member that ranged from faith leaders and businesspeople to young professionals and families. In succeeding where no other mayor has, Mayor Reed put Montgomery on a trajectory to transform education, access and economic opportunity.

Before being elected mayor of Montgomery, Mayor Reed was the first Black and youngest elected Probate Judge in Montgomery County, Alabama. In this role, Mayor Reed stood staunch for the rule of law in a legal challenge to former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore over marriage equality. He also delivered over a million dollars’ worth of new voting machines and expanded the office’s efforts to increase voter participation.

Steven Reed was born and raised in Montgomery. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, from Morehouse College, where he also lettered in football. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management. Mayor Reed received the Dr. Martin Luther King Leadership Award for Governmental Service and was chosen as a New Deal Leader.

He and his wife Tamika are the proud parents of three children.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin

Randall L. Woodfin was sworn in as the 30th mayor of Birmingham, Alabama on Nov. 28, 2017.

His dedication to his hometown and to others developed when he was a 15-year-old working as a bagger at a Birmingham supermarket. It was the place where Mayor Woodfin learned the importance of “Putting People First,” a concept he carried on to Morehouse College, then to law school and finally into his career. Today, that message is at the core of his administration.

But those words are more than a slogan or theme. “Putting People First” is a strategy representing Mayor Woodfin’s mission to build the best version of Birmingham it can be.

In order to make Birmingham a laboratory for progress, the mayor is focused on revitalizing the city’s 99 neighborhoods, enhancing education and career opportunities for students, and creating an innovative economic climate to grow, attract and retain talent, startups and small businesses.

Mayor Woodfin’s leadership is already transforming futures. His vision to create new education and career opportunities for students led to the Birmingham Promise, a public-private partnership that provides tuition assistance to cover college costs for Birmingham high school graduates. Birmingham Promise apprenticeships also provide students with jobs and career experience to prepare them for post-graduation employment opportunities.

The mayor’s commitment to neighborhood revitalization includes the creation of the Neighborhood Revitalization Fund to target quality of life issues for Birmingham residents. Through Mayor Woodfin’s leadership, additional money has been directed to an aggressive street repaving and sidewalk program.

Birmingham is and has always been a city for builders, from steel mills to startups. Mayor Woodfin is working to put Birmingham in a position to be a magnet for the next generation of purpose-driven builders interested in spurring innovation and catalyzing entrepreneurship. Those efforts include a focus on transforming the city into a hub for women- and minority-owned businesses.

Under Mayor Woodfin’s leadership, the city launched the Office of Social Justice and Racial Equity which seeks to employ social justice as a core principle in City of Birmingham policies, operations and decision-making.

A native of Birmingham and graduate of Cumberland School of Law, Mayor Woodfin is an attorney and former president of the Birmingham Board of Education. Throughout his career, he has worked in various positions for the City of Birmingham, which is why he’s committed to bringing a new vision, a new dedication and a new energy to a city where he wants residents to have every opportunity to grow to their fullest potential.