(Matt Demlein, WRVA)

Legislative Black Caucus To Attend Richmond Event Marking First Slaves

Boycotting Jamestown/Williamsburg Event

July 29, 2019 - 2:07 pm

Richmond, Va. (Newsradiowrva.com) - While President Donald Trump (R) will be in Williamsburg Tuesday for the 400th Anniversary of the General Assembly, members of the Legislative Black Caucus as well as Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, will be in Richmond.  The group will be attending an event at the Lumpkin's Jail site in Shockoe Bottom, commemerating the first African-American slaves in Virginia.  The LBC's release reads as follows:


RICHMOND, VA - On Monday, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus (VLBC) announced that the Black legislators of the Virginia General Assembly will boycott all of the American Evolution 400th Anniversary Commemoration programs scheduled for July 29-31, 2019 and have arranged alternative commemorative events for this week.


The VLBC has always served as a voice for the values and issues of Black Virginians and other underrepresented groups in the Commonwealth. The participation of the President is antithetical to the principles for which the caucus stands and the democracy that many counterintuitively are clinging to as an excuse to attend this week. Although the scheduled events are geared towards reflecting upon the first representative legislative assembly in North America, that sentiment can not and must not be separated contextually from the fact that the first documented enslaved Africans were brought to the country during this same period. The botched planning of this event has belied the stated purpose of the commemoration and it is regrettable that the full American Evolution Board was not consulted before making the invitation.


Del. Delores McQuinn (Richmond - 70th District), a member of the VLBC and the American Evolution Board commented, “It is unfortunate that the leadership of the American Evolution Board decided unilaterally to invite the President without consulting all of the members of the Board. I firmly had believed that my concerns, opinions, and feelings would be valued and welcomed.”  She continued, “If I had been asked my opinion, I certainly would have expressed that the President’s offensive and inappropriate tweets have not added value or been aligned with Democracy. It is the quote of Edmund Burke that I treasure and he said ‘the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good people to do nothing’. I choose to stand with others who cherish democracy.”


The commemoration of the birth of this nation and its democracy will be tarnished unduly with the participation of the President, who continues to make degrading comments toward minority leaders, promulgate policies that harm marginalized communities, and use racist and xenophobic rhetoric.  Additionally, the President has encouraged violence against those who dare to speak out and call his actions and words what they truly are- dangerous and divisive. The VLBC will not in good conscience sit silently and support his inclusion in this event. It is impossible to ignore the emblem of hate and disdain that the President represents. Furthermore, his repeated attacks on Black legislators and comments about Black communities makes him ill-suited to honor and commemorate such a monumental period in history, especially if this nation is to move forward with the ideals of "democracy, inclusion, and opportunity.”


“There is no shortage of historical research, opinions, and perspectives as to what the last 400-years have looked like for minority communities in our country and as Black leaders in the legislature, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus has a responsibility to ensure that the next 400 years empower and unify our Commonwealth and country,” said Del. Lamont Bagby (Henrico-74th District), Virginia Legislative Black Caucus Chair.  Bagby went on to offer, “At what point do we recognize the power an institution holds versus blindly revering the institution? Blind respect prevents the very process required to bring about the change we are fighting for, and the change for which our ancestors died fighting for.”


"As we celebrate the beginning of American Democracy, we must recognize that it is a government by, of, and for the people built on the ideals of personal liberty, justice, and the rule of law.  The President’s words and actions demonstrate that he does not share or embody these ideals. The struggle of the past 400 years has been making these ideals apply to everyone, and the VLBC will focus tomorrow on those individuals who fought for a more just, equitable, and inclusive democracy," stated Virginia Legislative Black Caucus Vice Chair Senator Jennifer McClellan (Richmond-9th District).


The absence of the VLBC  will send the message that the members do not condone the President’s participation and all that is represented by his attending this commemoration. Those who have chosen to attend and remain silent are complicit in the atrocities that he incites. This week will reveal which legislative leaders are willing to take a stand with the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.