Photo: Tucker Webb/The Daily Home
Between 1877 and 1950, the Equal Justice Initiative reports that five Black people were lynched in Talladega County. The mood in the small Alabama town today feels a little different, after Tallagedga elected its first Black mayor. At the age of 29, Talladega native Tim Ragland became the city’s youngest mayor ever. Ragland is also on track to graduate from law school in May. This is a great time to be alive.
Every vote counts. In October Ragland was forced to go through a runoff in order to beat the incumbent, Jerry Cooper. Ragland won the runoff by a mere 24 votes. Talladega is a small town with a population of roughly 15,000. The issues there, on the surface, are less complex than those of a New York City or Houston. Yet there are challenges, ranging from the realization of equity to the mundane street repairs necessary to make a city work. All of them, big and small, are now for Ragland to address head on and this young man is up for the challenge.
Ragland’s victory comes on the heels of Steven Reed becoming the first Black Mayor of Montgomery. There is a shift in the Alabama Tide, it would seem. Much of that shift is rooted in demographics — Blacks are the largest racial group in both Montgomery and Talladega. But numbers mean little, if not leveraged at the voting booth and it would seem that Black people in both localities flexed enough muscle to push these two men over the top. What is happening in Alabama is a clear signal to Black America — change can happen and it starts on the local level.