Black people did not have the right to vote until the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965. In the 2017 mayoral elections held in North Carolina's city of Charlotte, Robert Taylor made history.
Prior to the passing of the Voting Rights Act, Black folks in the United States were not granted the right to vote in any elections in the country. To date, some Black Americans live to share what it was like to wait until the legislation was passed in the year 1965 to exercise their right to vote. Robert Taylor is one of them. In the 2017 mayoral elections held in North Carolina's city of Charlotte, Taylor voted for his daughter Vi Lyles, the city's first Black woman to be elected to the office of Mayor. The new Mayor claimed her parents' generosity is what inspired her to take action in her local community.
Taylor's story first came to light when Lyles's daughter, Aisha Alexander-Young, posted about it in a tweet in 2017. "My grandfather is a 96-year-old Charlotte native," she wrote at the time. "He was not allowed to vote until he was 44 years old when the Voting Rights Act [was] passed. This year, he voted for my mom Vi Lyles who became the first Black woman elected to the office of mayor of Charlotte. #MondayMotivation." Without a doubt, the vote was a historic one for both the city as well as their family.
My grandfather is a 96 year old Charlotte native. He wasnt the allowed to vote until he was 44 years old when the Voting Rights Act passed. This year, he voted for my mom @ViLyles who became the 1st Black woman elected to the office of mayor of Charlotte. #MondayMotivation pic.twitter.com/TaCY84o1H3— Aisha Alexander-Young (@AishaThinker) December 4, 2017
This story is about one of many others who were alive during the Jim Crow era, a time when state and local statutes legalized racial segregation. While some may argue that government-mandated racism was supposedly a long time ago, the fact that there are Black Americans alive today who lived through the era suggests otherwise. Indeed, many others like Taylor are alive today. For example, a study found that as of 2018, nearly a third of Americans alive at the time were also alive in 1965. This means some 2.6 million people living in the Deep South that year—in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina—were adults at the time that the Voting Rights Act passed.
Thankfully, we have come a great way since. Lyles has a long history of community organizing. In the past, she worked for the city of Charlotte as a budget analyst, budget director and assistant city manager. She was also the community outreach director for the 2012 Democratic National Convention. In 2013, Lyles was elected to the Charlotte City Council, during which time she proposed a seven-point plan to reduce racial and class divisions in the city, parts of which were approved by the council. According to the Mayor, her parents modeled generosity through tithing and supporting their church. She continued this tradition of giving, supporting nonprofits in the fields of education, culture, human services and more.