CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte made history tonight by swearing-in its first African American female mayor, Vi Lyles. It also introduced a number of new faces to City Council, most famous among them activist-turned-politician Braxton Winston.
Winston came to prominence for his participation and leadership both during and after the protests resulting from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott.
His story has made international headlines, and tonight, during his first statement from dais, he once again showed why his election has garnered so much attention.
While everyone else was busy celebrating his win, as well as Lyles’s win, as well as overall a younger class of politicians, Winston was reflecting on the group that is now less represented than it was before his swearing-in: Women.
“I like to think that the future of Charlotte, and North Carolina and America is ungendered, but I want everybody to look: We talk about everything new about this [City Council], but I want to call [attention to] the fact that we have four less voices of women that are going to be able to vote on this dais,” Winston said.
“We have to find ways to center all marginalized groups, but now especially on this dais, women. Women are on the lead here in Charlotte. Women are the reason that I am here right now,” he added.
He then thanked the women in his family, many of whom were in attendance, as well as those on his campaign staff, and otherwise in his life, for supporting him, keeping him true to himself, and helping him to get elected to City Council.
He recently attended and live streamed a large parade by anti-abortion activists at a women’s health clinic in Charlotte. It is part of an ongoing effort led by anti-LGBTQ activist and preacher Flip Benham, his sons, the Benham brothers, and others.
Winston reminded his colleagues that now the talk is over and the time for action has begun.
“We have work to do,” he said. “To my colleagues on the dais, staff and other elected officials, it is time to be warrior advocates for our people, of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. And we have to figure out how to do this together.”
“Individual fingers can cause painful scratches and poke some eyes, but if we come together as a fist, we can break down these walls of inequity,” he continued. “And we can make this the Charlotte, the North Carolina and the nation that we want to be.”
Winston also remembered someone telling him during the Charlotte Uprising protests that he wouldn’t be around any longer than the broken glass they were sweeping up.
“Well, I’m here right now,” he said.
Watch Winston make his first statement from dais after being sworn-in below.
And he is here in a bigger way than ever before. And now the work begins.