WASHINGTON, D.C. – To kick off Black History Month, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) today published the third episode of his “Lift Every Voice” podcast featuring Vi Lyles, the first black woman to be elected mayor of Charlotte. In the episode, Mayor Lyles recounts her time growing up in South Carolina and the improbable journey that took her from the back halls of City Government to the front halls of the mayor's office, making history as the Queen City's first black female mayor.
Interspersed throughout the conversation are important takeaways about the challenges of being a mayor, the decades of urban policy that have systemically marginalized black Americans, the importance of diverse representatives in government, and the redeeming power of the ballot box.
"I’m thrilled to kick off Black History Month by sharing the inspiring story of someone who has been a change-maker in her community for years," Booker said. "Her work, her long life of service, and her story are a testimony to the idea that the story of the black American experience and black history is mission-oriented. It’s not just about celebrating facts, it’s about a purpose-driven mission to accomplish justice. Like generations of black women before her, Mayor Lyles is every day creating black history and deepening the truth of our American history."
"I really do believe that leadership is about being your authentic self," Mayor Lyles said. "And what I felt this community needed more than anything was someone who would stand up and say 'I believe in this city, I believe the best thing about our city is our people.'
"My priority is making sure we're a city of opportunity - and if you don’t have that opportunity, I'm going to see if I can help create it with our city council, or with our legislature, or with our governor,” Lyles continued. “I'm willing to reach out to anyone because our city is only as successful as the people in it."
Booker launched the Lift Every Voice podcast last month on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, as a way to shine a light on overlooked issues of injustice and inequality and share inspiring stories of change. The podcast features an exclusive recording of the hymn “Lift Every Voice and Sing” performed by the choir at Booker’s church in Newark, the Metropolitan Baptist Church.