Ella Jones made history as she became the first black and woman mayor of Ferguson, Missouri Tuesday, six years after the St. Louis suburb gained national attention for the spark in protests after a white police officer shot and killed black teenager Michael Brown. Her victory comes amid protests across the nation over the killing of George Floyd and police brutality against black Americans.
Jones will be sworn in as the new mayor of Ferguson on June 16.
“It’s just our time,” Jones, 65, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It’s just my time to do right by the people.”
Jones, who according to the City of Ferguson website has been a resident of Ferguson for 40 years, first ran for office after the killing of Brown and the city’s unrest for justice. She was sworn in as a Ferguson City Council member in 2015. Protests following the fatal shooting of Brown, involving then-Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, propelled the Black Lives Matter movement, which formed two years earlier after the shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch volunteer.
Jones won the election with 54% of the votes against her running mate and former fellow councilwoman Heather Robinett. She will be succeeding James Knowles III who was elected in 2011 but could not run for re-election due to term limits.
"It says a lot about the people, the people made the choice and they chose me. And I'm willing to do the work," Jones said to KMOV about her mayoral election. "In the next 90 days I want to do a town hall so that everyone in Ferguson would know the state of Ferguson and just not a select few."
Jones’ election made waves on social media as people congratulated her for her victory, reinforcing the call to propel and amplify black voices.
Former president Barack Obama tweeted “a reminder of the difference politics and voting can make in changing who has the power to make real change in a community like Ferguson with a history of blatant discriminatory law enforcement practices.” Basketball star Lebron James tweeted “a [rose] has bloomed from the cracked concrete state of nation we’re living in right now!” When They See Us director Ava DuVernay shared a post drawing attention to Ella Jones’ historic win.
“If you’ve been oppressed so long, it’s hard for you to break out to a new idea,” Jones told the New York Times after losing to Knowles in the 2017 mayoral election. “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.”
Ferguson joined many cities across the country in protests that started after white police officer David Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while Floyd pleaded for air.