On August 9, it will have been six years since Mike Brown’s death. Some six years ago, Ferguson, Mo. became front-page news when white officer Darren Wilson shot and killed an 18-year-old unarmed teen. The stories would be conflicting, the narrative would be familiar and the nation was forced to pick a side. Black folks argued that even with our hands up, we still got shot.
Six years later, the fire of protests is still smoldering.
America is still marching with its hands in the air. The world is still angry and raging after an eight-minute video showed a handcuffed George Floyd pleading for his life as Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin drove his knee into Floyd’s neck. In the midst of mass protests, Ferguson is still making news, still showing America that in the aftermath of chaos, change is possible.
On Tuesday, St. Louis Councilwoman Ella Jones became the mayor of Ferguson, becoming not only the first African American to hold the position but also the first woman.
“It’s just our time,” Jones, 65, said in an interview with the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch. “It’s just my time to do right by the people.”
Asked what her election means for Ferguson’s black residents, she responded with one word: “Inclusion.”
The Post-Dispatch notes that Jones captured 54 percent of the vote over Councilwoman Heather Robinett, who had 46 percent. This was Jones’ second time running for mayor of Ferguson, having lost in 2017 to incumbent James Knowles III, who was unable to run for a fourth term because of term limits.
Ferguson residents literally voted against a backdrop of protests as the “fed up-rising” across the country reminded Ferguson of not only a continued push forward but of the work still to be done.
“Jones and Robinett, 49, said if elected they would help Ferguson to continue implementing changes in city practices since the 2014 unrest, including a consent decree worked out with the federal government,” the Post-Dispatch reports.
Jones told the newspaper that her initial goal as mayor was “to help stabilize the businesses in Ferguson,” especially those recently damaged during protests.
Now, this is the part that America must pay close attention to: before Mike Brown’s death, there was only one black council member out of six. Today, there are four minus Jones, who’s moving into the mayor’s seat. This is why protest and upheaval matter. This is why disruption matters. This is why black lives matter.