A powerful political statement was made on Tuesday, January 2nd, when the city of Charlottesville, Virginia elected their first black female mayor, Nikuyah Walker. The election of a city mayor may seem small compared to larger national elections, but this is inarguably significant given the fact that Charlottesville was the site of a violent white supremacist rally this past summer.
Walker, who is an Independent, was voted in by the Charlottesville City Council on Tuesday and won 4-1. The election results send the message that the majority of the city’s citizens stand for equality. Walker will be succeeding outgoing mayor Mike Signer and will be serving with Vice Mayor Heather Hill, a Democrat. This isn’t the first time she’s made history either: Before this election, Walker was the first independent to serve on the City Council since 1948.
It was less than six months ago that Charlottesville was taken over by a rally of white nationalists who donned tiki torches and Nazi symbols to protest the removal of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s statue in a public park. The Unite The Right rally resulted in a counter-protest, as well as the tragic death of Heather Hayer. The rally also served as a sobering reminder that racism is very much alive in the United States.
Walker was among many who criticized the city’s response to the rally. A few days after it happened, Walker challenged authorities who allowed the rally’s organizers to get a permit. She also criticized police for not getting a better handle on the violence that took place.
Walker is one of several black females to be appointed mayor of cities across the United States, which is definitely a step in the right direction when it comes to both equality and representation. We can’t wait to see what she accomplishes.