As the first month of 2018 draws to a close, we’ve seen a number of powerful women of color dominate the political scene. Today's “Woman Who Inspires” is Nikuyah Walker, the first black female mayor of Charlottesville. Elected on January 3rd, Ms. Walker’s leadership demonstrates resilience against hate, as she took office in a city that had previously made headlines for hosting a deadly white nationalist event. Ms. Walker, a grassroots activist, worked her way up to the mayor’s office in order to make a difference in her community.
Photo: Twitter @Nikuyahwalker
Five months before Walker's election, Charlottesville was overrun by the Unite the Right movement, which was a group bearing white supremacists and Nazi emblems that protested the removal of Confederate symbols. During the resulting counter-protest, a woman, Heather Heyer, was killed by a protestor’s car. The violence served as a chilling reminder that racism is very much alive in America today.
However, in what is thought of as a symbolic response against white supremacy, the Charlottesville City Council appointed Walker as the mayor. Before becoming mayor, Walker was an outspoken activist who fought against hate and inequality. She previously served on the council as an Independent, basing her platform on “jobs, improv[ing] our schools, and mak[ing] true affordable housing a top priority.” She criticized the previous mayor, Mike Signer, for his role in allowing the white nationalist violence to play out. Therefore, by electing Walker as mayor, Charlottesville demonstrated its commitment to equality and progress.
Following her election, many took to social media to share their support of the historic mayoral election, expressing hope for what Walker would accomplish. However, Walker herself said it best when she tweeted that “we made history last night and then we got to work.”
Malavika Kannan is a sixteen-year-old Indian American, metaphor enthusiast, and history junkie. She plans to major in International Politics in order to help make the world a better place. Malavika believes in female empowerment, Kurt Vonnegut novels, and, occasionally, herself.