Steven L. Reed is the first African American mayor of Montgomery, Alabama. Reed was born in 1974 in Montgomery, to Mollie and Joseph L. Reed. His mother was an educator, and his father was a former educator and well-known politician who served on the Montgomery City Council from 1975 to 1999. Reed’s father exposed him to politics at a young age.
Reed attended Cloverdale Junior High School in 1986 and Jeff Davis High School (1989-1992). He graduated cum laude from Morehouse College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1996 and then attended Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, where he earned his master’s degree in business administration in 2004. Reed also became a member of the Theta Alpha graduate chapter of Omega Psi Phi fraternity in 1998.
Reed met his wife Tamika in Atlanta in 2001. She is now a lawyer for the Alabama Education Association and the mother of three children. Their daughter Kyla Cole is attending Howard University in Washington, D.C., and they have two sons, Klein and Karsten Reed, who are currently attending elementary and middle school.
After graduating, Reed began his career as a financial analyst in the Marketing Performance department in the American Airlines corporate headquarters in Dallas, Texas. He entered the political world running for lieutenant governor in Alabama, 2010 but he lost by a landslide. He then decided he wanted to approach politics locally, and was elected, in 2012, as Montgomery County’s youngest and first Black probate judge.
He used his authority to advocate for same-sex marriage by issuing marriage licenses to LGBTQ+ couples. In March 2015, Judge Reed stopped issuing these licenses after the state Supreme Court ordered a halt for all marriage licenses being issued to same-sex couples in the state of Alabama. Ironically on June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all bans on same-sex marriage across the United States, thus vindicating Judge Reed’s previous actions.
Judge Reed noticed that many of the cases presented to him were related to mental illness and decided that such cases should be resolved before they reached the courts. He helped merge two programs, AUM Outreach and Envision 2020 to create the Healthy Mind Network. The Alabama Healthy Mind Network improves access to quality care and resources to provide better outcome for people who suffer from mental illnesses.
In February 2019, Reed announced that he would be running for mayor of Montgomery, Alabama. His election is significant for many reasons, but most notably due to the long history of racial strife in that city symbolized most dramatically by the Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955-1956, and the Selma-to-Montgomery March which eventually led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. With that history as backdrop, Steven L. Reed became the 57th mayor and the first Black mayor of Montgomery, Alabama, on October 8th, 2019.