Though it’s been nearly a year since the violent “Unite The Right” white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, the work of reform was just getting underway in the southern Virginia city. But Charlottesville’s first African-American mayor recently said she was going full steam ahead with her mission to push Democrats to do more to tackle the systematic racism.
“One of the main things that I’m here to do is to call attention to the liberal progressive Democratic structure that’s in place, that believes that their best intentions are enough,” Walker, 38, told The Guardian in an interview published Tuesday. “You need actions behind those intentions. You can’t just use words.”
She continued: “I’m attempting to make sure – and it’s painful – that people who work for the city, people who receive money from the city, understand that if they’re not moving the needle, making progress, changing lives, if they don’t truly understand service, they will not be in a position to receive resources, or I will criticize you publicly.”
Like many African-Americans, Walker has publicly acknowledged a painful truth: A “post-racial” society is a myth in America. The deep-reaching, indelible wounds of racism were still bleeding, especially considering the hateful white supremacist rally that shrouded Charlottesville in darkness last summer.
Walker, a mother of three, said she couldn’t stand by and watch the erupted horror in her home city. She ran for the mayoral role on the promise of “Unmasking the Illusion,” a reference to helping Charlottesville to see that racism was still alive and well in order to attack and defeat it. Walker wasn’t particularly worried about people’s comfort, but rather their change in moving forward with her mission.
“Here it’s that polite, you know, civil political scene,” Walker said. “I tell people all the time: ‘In very polite, civil discussions around boardroom tables, eating Baggby’s sandwiches, you have put policies in place that have ruined generations of native families in this area.’ So I don’t really care about your request for civility, because even though you are not loud, you are not yelling, you still impacted people’s lives in a way that affected three or four generations at a time.”