Wes Bellamy, the 30-Year-Old Vice Mayor of Charlottesville, Va., Has Plans To Move His City Forward

Wes Bellamy, Vice Mayor of Charlottesville, Va., is not going to sit and do nothing like other mayors or vice mayors in this country.

As the racial divide that has always existed in America turns from a deep fissure to a gaping chasm (which side will you choose?), the city of Charlottesville, Va., remains at the center of that divide’s latest incarnation, especially after a woman lost her life at the hands of rabid white supremacists last week.

After Heather Heyer’s tragic death Saturday, the bucolic college town will heretofore live in racial infamy, known by one name only, like “Ferguson” or “Charleston.”

Since May, there have been no fewer than three white supremacist marches in Charlottesville, supposedly over the removal of a statue of Virginian Gen. Robert E. Lee. That action was spearheaded in large part by the 30-year-old vice mayor of the city, Wes Bellamy.

Although Bellamy—the youngest person to ever be elected to the Charlottesville City Council, and its only African American—has been the subject of death threats and called “nigger” more times than a few, he maintains that the events of last week were not just about an effigy of a dead Confederate.

“It’s not about a statue. No, that march was about white supremacy,” said Bellamy. “We’re still in what some would consider the Deep South, the capital of the Confederacy, and we’re moving and really vocal about equity. We’re not with the nonsense. That makes us a target. I’m fine with that. I hate the fact that we’ve had a tragedy, but I do think that it is important again for us to continue to stand up.”
Bellamy, who has a doctorate in education administration and supervision, was elected to the five-person council in 2015, with a four-year term to run through 2020. He is a true millennial, firmly ensconced in social media, carving out new paths, and just might drop a little Kanye West in conversation.

When I spoke with Bellamy via phone this week, he interrupted the call no fewer than five or six times to speak to young adults—“You ready for school, man?”; “Put a shirt on, with your chicken chest”; “What’s up, brother? How are you doing?”; and elders—“Yes, Mama B, I’m fine.”

He is indeed a man of the community and was out among the people all three days of last weekend, despite the death threats he receives on a regular basis. Bellamy concedes that his wife and mother and aunties are concerned for his safety, but he says he will not be cowed.

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