On Tuesday, June 2, Ella Jones became the first-ever Black Mayor-elect of Ferguson, Missouri. Six years ago, this Missouri city gained national attention when a white police officer killed a Black teenager named Michael Brown. Protests erupted throughout the city seeking justice for Brown, propelling the Black Lives Matter Movement to the forefront of national consciousness. Today, protests are once again taking place in Ferguson as well as around the world, this time in the name of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, and police brutality and systemic racism at large. In the midst of it all, local elections were held, and Ella Jones made history.
The 65-year-old politician will be taking over for Republican incumbent James Knowles III, who has been Mayor of Ferguson since 2011 and was acting Mayor when Michael Brown was killed. Jones had previously lost to Knowles in the 2017 elections but this year, she was running against opponent Heather Robinett due to Knowles exhausting his term limit. Jones won the race with 54 percent of the vote.
Of course, this is not the first time Mayor Jones has made history. In 2015, she became the first Black woman elected to the Ferguson City Council. When Jones made moves to run for Mayor, at first people in her community were skeptical. “If you’ve been oppressed so long, it’s hard for you to break out to a new idea,” Jones said. “And when you’ve been governed by fear and people telling you that the city is going to decline because an African-American person is going to be in charge, then you tend to listen to the rhetoric and don’t open your mind to new possibilities.”
Now, Ferguson can see change and police reform that could take the city on the path towards putting an end to police brutality. “My election gives people hope,” Jones stated. “Everybody is looking for a change, everybody wants to have a better way of life. You don’t want to go four blocks and worry about getting shot, nobody wants that. It is starting to get better. We are making changes.”
Jones notes that her historic win means inclusion for Black residents of Ferguson, MO. “It’s just our time,” Jones said in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It’s just my time to do right by the people.”
Image via NBC News on YouTube
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Aliza is a Creative Writing BFA student and former BUST Magazine intern! When she's not writing, reading or scrolling through TikTok for hours on end, you can find her consuming copious amounts of iced coffee or doing something witchy. Follow her on Twitter @alizapelto.