First Black Woman Appointed as Vice Mayor of Predominately White CA Community Opens Up about Goals to Make It More Diverse and Inclusive

by Xara Aziz
Courtesy: Yasmine Imani McMorrin

Yasmine-Imani McMorrin is only 33 but is blazing new trails after she became the first Black woman to be elected to the Culver City Council in 2020. Now, she’s set even higher heights for herself after it was recently announced that she has been selected to serve as Vice Mayor of the city, becoming the first Black woman to do so.

In addition to her work in public service, McMorrin is also the Director of Education Equity for California’s Children’s Defense Fund. In an interview for Essence, the mother of one said that her hope in her new role is to “ensure that as Culver City develops, we prioritize equity, making sure that everyone shares in the progress we create together.”

Stepping into the field of politics was not one she thought she would pursue, she explained in the interview, citing that she is an introvert by nature who loves being home, drinking tea and being with her daughter and cat in solitude, but somehow, that lifestyle was not in the deck of cards for her.

“I got involved in politics shortly after we moved to California in 2016,” McMorrin said. “Unfortunately, my daughter wasn’t having the best experience at school, so my entry point to organizing and advocacy here in California started by joining the local PTA. I sort of fell into it—local and policy decisions really acutely touched my life. I was a renter when I decided to run for City Council, I took transit to work, and I’m a person of color, and so it was just something that I said, “someone has to do it. I’m just as qualified, if not more qualified than folks that are currently doing it.”

She further added that imposter syndrome (a condition of feeling anxious and not experiencing success internally, despite being a high performer), almost made her take a backseat in the world of politics, but she decided she needed to step up not only for herself and her daughter, but for Black women everywhere.  

“We absolutely deserve to be in policymaking positions and roles, and to be encouraged in that,” she said. “Our government is made up of people who are elected by us, and if we focus on Black women, everyone’s condition and everyone’s experiences, our cities and our states will be better. We belong everywhere, but particularly in government, especially as Black women, and it is a privilege and an honor to do this kind of impactful work and I’m very grateful.”

McMorrin says that she had no idea she would make history by becoming the first Black woman to be Vice Mayor in a predominately White community, but she knew that when she assumed the role, the job would be bigger than herself.

“I ran a very progressive campaign, and it was a risk to run under a divest/invest model in terms of wanting to divest 50% from the police department into housing, into services for youth, into services for our unhoused, creating an unarmed mobile crisis response model because I see safety as something more police responding to a crime.”

She continued: “I see safety as folks having food, folks having shelter, having access to good transit, having access to programs and a living wage, all of these things. I knew [I’d be the first] so, I was able to run with those things in mind and I wanted to run as myself. I didn’t pretend to be anyone else. I’m a single mom and these are things that Culver City was not really used to seeing, but I was also very well qualified, and I guess it translated. But again, it is a privilege because other single moms and other folks from communities of color will come up to me say, ‘I really appreciate your voice. You’re speaking for me.’”

On being a single mother, McMorrin says she is “humbled” to see that the next generation can one day look up to her and achieve even higher heights than what she has achieved.

“I feel humbled to see my daughter and her friends come into their own, my peers and friends who’ve gone to Spelman getting married, having children, excelling in their careers,” she concluded. “I’m grateful to be surrounded by it. I’m grateful for the reminder that it exists. I’m grateful when I see it.”

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