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Q & A: Ella Jones New Mayor of Ferguson

Ella Jones: New Mayor of Ferguson

On June 17, 2020, Ella Jones was officially sworn in as the first African American and the first woman mayor Ferguson sits outside of St. Louis and became the city that infamously propelled the Black Lives Matter movement to international attention after a white police officer shot and killed unarmed Black teenager, Michael Brown, in 2014.

A native of New Orleans, Jones, 65, earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She pastored several A.M.E. churches in St. Louis and Ferguson for 22 years and was a high-ranking Mary Kay sales director for 30 years. In 2015, Jones became the first Black member of the Ferguson City Council.

People tell me how challenging it’s going to be to change attitudes in Ferguson. I’m up for any challenge. I’m used to being the first. I’m a trailblazer.

The Crisis: You were bombarded by local and national media on June 3, the same morning you learned your sister died, in the midst of protests over the police murder of George Floyd and a global pandemic. Yet you were consistently gracious and enthusiastic about your victory. How’d you do that?

JONES: It’s just how my brothers, sisters, and I were raised. My mother and grandmother instilled in us “If something bad happens, you don’t have to let the world know. You have to keep going.” That’s what I did. I kept going. I needed to be who I am.

The Crisis: You are the first woman and the first African American Mayor of Ferguson, a city that’s only on the map because of Michael Brown’s death and the national outcry that followed. Do you feel any pressure?

JONES: People are constantly telling me how much pressure I’m going to be under as Mayor, how incredibly challenging it’s going to be to change attitudes in and about Ferguson. I’m up for any challenge. And I’m used to being the first. There was the City Council in 2015. When I was Pastor of Bethel A.M.E. Church in Paynesville, Missouri, I was the first woman pastor to renovate a church. I was the first woman pastor at Union A.M.E. in St. Louis. I’m a trailblazer.

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