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Behind the History: Mayor Vi Lyles is Charlotte's first African American female mayor

WCNC Charlotte sat down with Mayor Lyles who talked about the importance of young people seeing themselves in key positions, and the importance of dreaming big.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It was a historic day in November 2017. Voters in Charlotte elected Vi Lyles to become the first African American female mayor of the Queen City. 

“I don’t always feel like I’m an African American mayor," Mayor Vi Lyles said. "What I feel like is I’m a mayor of a great city, but at the same time I don’t ignore the fact that being African American makes a difference in the eyes of many."

WCNC Charlotte sat down with Mayor Lyles who talked about the importance of young people seeing themselves in key positions like hers as well as the importance of dreaming big. 

“When I have little girls come to the office, moms bring them and they say I just wanted her to meet an African American woman that’s the mayor of Charlotte," Mayor Lyles said. "I always tell those little girls I may be the mayor but you can be the governor or you could be the president."

But after a long career in city government, becoming mayor wasn’t necessarily the dream. 

“I really had no idea that I would do this," she said. "But sometimes you’re in that place that it’s not necessarily about whether or not you should, it’s that you need to."

Now in her second term, Mayor Lyles continues to let her passion for people and the community shine through. 

RELATED: 'We’ve done it again' | Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles elected for second term

“When you get to see everyday people feeling like they’re making a difference in their community, that’s the best thing about this job,” Mayor Lyles said.

But making it to the mayor’s office isn’t enough for her. 

“You have to give back," she said. "You have to make sure that the people who got you to place that you are, you have to make sure you’re helping the next generation to be able to get where they are."

And for the generation of young people of color coming behind her, she says it’s important to continue to strive for new heights.    

“It’s about showing that you can achieve things even when you may feel like your color holds you back," Mayor Lyles said. "That you can use that same power to move yourself forward."

Related Video: Chatting with Mayor Vi Lyles

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