Six years after white police officer Darren Wilson gunned down Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, and left his body uncovered in the middle of the street for hours as if to send a message—Ferguson, Missouri has a black woman mayor. According to the New York Times, Ella Jones, a Ferguson City Council member and pastor in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, is Ferguson’s first black and first woman mayor, elected with 54 percent of the vote.
Good news is in short supply these days, but Jones’s election is cause for optimism: She was the first black woman elected to Ferguson’s City Council in 2015, the Times reports, where she has been critical of law enforcement. In her campaign, she pledged to uphold “a federal consent decree, a legally binding agreement requiring reforms to a police department.”
As all 50 states engage in protests following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other black Americans by the police, it’s hard not to see symbolism in the timing. After Michael Brown’s murder and the decision not to indict Darren Wilson by a grand jury made up primarily of white people, protests followed and for many, Ferguson is seen as the place where the Black Lives Matter movement entered national awareness. Currently, those protesters in Ferguson are marching for Floyd—the fight continues.
In a video captured Tuesday night, when Ella Jones officially won the election and title of first black mayor of Ferguson, she said, “Being the first African-American woman, what does that mean? That means I’ve got work to do—because when you’re an African-American woman, they require more of you than they require of my counterpart.”
“I know that the people in Ferguson are ready to stabilize their community,” Jones continued, “and we’re going to work together to get it done.”