Last year, Virginia ratified the Equal Rights Amendment. Now, a state Senator is taking the fight to Congress.
Testifying before a House panel Thursday, State Senator Jennifer McClellan told members of Congress that the time has come to add a new amendment to the Constitution, one that says equality of rights under law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
“It is time for me to stop fighting the same fights that my mother, my grandmother, my great grandmother had to fight,” McClellan said. “It is time for me tell my children, Jackson and Samantha, that the United States Constitution guarantees them both equality under the law.”
The Richmond Times-Dispatch | October 2nd, 2021
Hundreds of women, men and children took advantage of mild October weather to take part in an abortion rights march in Richmond that echoed similar events in cities across the U.S. on Saturday.
One of the first speakers addressing the crowd was state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, who got right to the point: “We got a little election coming up.”
McClellan, who unsuccessfully opposed Terry McAuliffe for her party’s nomination for governor, said she was a year old in 1973 when the U.S. Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade. She urged the crowd to vote on Nov. 2.
We could be Texas … we could be Mississippi, we could be Florida. This is what is at stake in this election,” she said.
The Washington Post | September 22nd, 2021
The man stands 12 feet tall, eyes closed in what might be pain or transcendence, chains falling off his outstretched arms, scars striped across his muscled back. Opposite him, a woman on a pedestal cradles an infant and thrusts a document into the air, her face calm and resolute.
With those figures in the forefront, Richmond unveiled a new Emancipation and Freedom Monument on Wednesday — commemorating a far different set of rebels than the Confederate statues that have been coming down for the past year.
“Emancipation was not a moment. It was a movement,” McClellan told the crowd Wednesday. That movement took centuries, from enslaved people’s acts of “rebellion, resistance and self-liberation,” she said, through the long battles against Jim Crow, Lost Cause mythology and the inequities that persist today.
The Virginia Mercury | September 22nd, 2021
Just weeks after the last Confederate statue on Richmond’s Monument Avenue was removed, a long-anticipated monument to emancipation was unveiled Wednesday on Brown’s Island.
“Resilience in the face of horror and pain is what this day is all about, which is why a little rain and a train are not gonna stop us,” State Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, chair of the legislature’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Commission, which commissioned the Emancipation and Freedom Monument, told a crowd shielded from the rain by umbrellas, ponchos and tents.
The monument project began nearly a decade ago as an initiative to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and abolition. The pair of 12-foot bronze statues, representing a man, a woman and an infant freed from slavery, was designed by artist Thomas Jay Warren of Oregon. It honors 10 African American Virginians, five from 1866 to 1970 and five from the period before emancipation.
NPR | September 22nd, 2021
Two weeks after the 6o-foot-tall statue of Robert E. Lee was removed in Richmond, Va., the former Confederate capital city has become home to a new statue, this one commemorating the abolition of slavery.
The Emancipation and Freedom Monument — designed by Thomas Jay Warren, a sculptor based in Oregon — was unveiled Wednesday on Brown’s Island on the James River in downtown Richmond, about 2 miles from where the Lee statue once stood.
“It really captured what we were trying to do in that the figures capture the emotion of emancipation, but the people on the base capture who else was involved of the process of fighting against slavery, leading to emancipation, and fighting for freedom and equality going forward,” state Sen. Jennifer McClellan told NPR.
Courthouse News Service | September 13th, 2021
While many Republican-led states have passed new restrictions on voting this year, Virginia’s Democratic governor ceremoniously signed legislation Monday which aims to further protect the right to vote in a state with a history of disenfranchising minorities.
“Voting is the backbone of our democracy,” Governor Ralph Northam said at a ceremony in Norfolk for the Voting Rights Act of Virginia, a first of its kind effort in the South.
Flanked by the Black, female elected officials who were the architects of the legislation, he said the law is an important part of righting the state’s racist past.
Harrisonburg Citizen | August 16th, 2021
A historical marker honoring renowned Harrisonburg educator Lucy Simms was unveiled to the public on Friday, Aug. 13, near the building which bears her name.
More than 100 people attended the ceremony, including Harrisonburg City Council members and state delegates Tony Wilt (R-Broadway) and Chris Runion (R-Bridgewater). Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), a gubernatorial candidate in this year’s Democratic primary, also attended and spoke at the event.
“To have the marker here at this school, in the neighborhood where Lucy Simms lived – it makes that history and that story so much more alive than if you just read about her in a book. And that is why it’s so important that we intentionally take the time to tell a complete story of our Commonwealth, and the people who made us who we are today,” McClellan said.
Virginia Mercury | July 2nd, 2021
in September of 2016, the state’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial commission announced the construction of the “Emancipation Proclamation and Freedom Monument” on Brown’s Island in Richmond dedicated to the emancipation of enslaved Africans. The commission projected that the 12 foot tall monument — which features a male slave with a deeply scarred back and loose shackles, a female slave holding a child, and the names of 10 historical Black Virginians — would be fully completed by the fall of 2019.
Nearly three years later, the statue remains a work in progress.
Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, who chairs the commission, said she now expects the statue to be completed by the end of the year, and potentially as early as September.
The Washington Post | June 30th, 2021
By James Hohmann, Columnist
As Virginia state Sen. Jennifer L. McClellan (D-Richmond) thumbed through her deceased father’s Bible earlier this year, a receipt slipped out, in the amount of $2.12. That was how much her father had to pay to be allowed to vote in 1948.
It took another 16 years, and a constitutional amendment, to end the Jim Crow tactic of poll taxes. This year, amid a lot of talk about whether new voting restrictions amount to Jim Crow 2.0, Virginia — one of the final five states to impose a poll tax — has taken a different turn.
Pushed by McClellan and other Black lawmakers, the commonwealth has transformed itself from one of the hardest places to cast a ballot in America to one of the easiest. On Thursday, most elements of a first-of-its-kind, state-level Voting Rights Act will go into effect.
ESSENCE | May 14th, 2021
By Senator Jennifer McClellan
Like many Black women across the South, I come from a family of care workers. Nearly every woman on my mothers side of the family— my mother, aunts, grandmother, and great grandmother— cared for white families in the segregated Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Their stories are the story of the American economy: built on the backs of Black women who were undervalued, underprotected, and, for centuries, underpaid. For generations, the economy has left behind the care workforce and families who need care but can’t afford it. And children whose education depends on the zip code they were born in.
Over the past two years, we’ve made generational progress in Virginia to root out systemic inequities and exclusions that were baked into our systems. I’ve brought my personal experience to drive that generational progress. In honor of the domestic workers in my family and with the help of advocates from Care In Action, I fought to pass the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights to make Virginia the first state in the South to extend to them worker protections by ending Jim Crow-era exclusions to the minimum wage, anti-discrimination laws, workplace health and safety laws, and wage theft protections.
The Black Wall Street Times | April 28th, 2021
In the former capital of the Confederacy, two Black women in the state legislature just passed one of the most progressive voting rights acts ever written in the South, determined to protect the right to vote.
State Delegate Marcia Price of Newport News and state Senator Jennifer McClellan of Richmond worked together to pass the state’s voting rights act to restore the protections to Virginians that were lost when the federal act was gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013. Governor Ralph Northam signed the bill into law earlier this month.
ABC News | March 30th, 2021
Middle and high school students across Virginia will soon be excused from school to participate in a protest or civic event thanks to a bipartisan group of students from Virginia Young Democrats and Virginia Teenage Republicans who joined forces to successfully lobby for the new law, which started as a school board policy in Fairfax County.
McClellan said she chose to sponsor the legislation to stoke the students’ interests.
“There is no substitute for live action, and by participating in civic events, they come alive in a way they just can’t in a book or in a lecture in the classroom, so it will spark a passion in them that hopefully will keep them engaged,” McClellan said.
RVA MAG | March 29th, 2021
McClellan, D-Richmond, has helped shape Virginia’s changing political landscape for 15 years as a state legislator. She just completed her fifth year serving as a senator. She won the position in a 2017 special election, departing her 11-year post as a delegate representing Charles City County and parts of Richmond City and Henrico and Hanover counties. McClellan now looks to the executive mansion.
“We need a governor who can rebuild our economy, our healthcare, our economic safety net, and help us move forward post-COVID in a way that addresses inequity and brings people that are impacted by these crises together to be a part of that solution,” McClellan said. “I’ve got the experience and perspective to do that.”
NBC News | March 5th, 2021
Virginia state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, a Democrat, who introduced the bill with fellow Democrat and state Sen. Mamie Locke, said HIV criminalization laws are an ineffective public health tool that disproportionately affect the LGBTQ community and people of color.
“They target and stigmatize people who are HIV positive, even though being HIV positive is itself not a threat to public safety.” McClellan told NBC News. “It makes people less likely to disclose or get tested.”
NPR | February 26th, 2021
Virginia had some of the tightest Jim Crow-era voting restrictions in the U.S. State Sen. Jennifer McClellan, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate who also sponsored the Virginia Voting Rights Act, said the effort reflected broader shifts in what has become a reliably blue state.
“It’s poetic justice that we’d be the first state in the South to pass a bill,” McClellan said.
The Appeal | February 24th, 2021
By Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg
On Friday, Lavern testified before a House of Delegates subcommittee in support of Senate Bill 1315. The bill, introduced by Senator Jennifer McClellan, permits people accused of crimes to submit evidence at trial of a mental illness, autism spectrum disorder, or intellectual or developmental disability to show their mental state at the time of a crime.
People accused of crimes in Virginia are prohibited from submitting this type of evidence during trial because of a 1985 Virginia Supreme Court decision that ruled a person’s mental state was irrelevant unless a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity is entered.
“If you’ve got somebody that has an underlying condition that means they could not have possibly had the intent they would need to commit a crime, a jury and a judge should know that,” McClellan, who is also running for governor this year, told The Appeal.
The Daily Progress | January 21st, 2021
For the last decade, Virginia has banned private plans on the state’s health insurance exchange from covering abortions in all but narrow circumstances.
But in an almost entirely party-line vote on Friday, the state Senate passed a bill from Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, that would remove that prohibition in state code.
It’s one of the lingering barriers to abortion access in Virginia, which McClellan and other legislators have been on a push to roll back for years — with much more success since Democrats took control of both General Assembly chambers in 2019.
“This is an issue that I’ve been fighting on for a really long time,” McClellan said in a phone interview on Friday. “And this is just the next step in protecting access to reproductive health here in Virginia.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch | January 15th, 2021
McClellan’s plan for universal child care and preschool in Virginia would guarantee free services for every low-income family. No family would pay more than 7% of their income in child care costs.
“The coronavirus crisis has worsened Virginia’s child care and early learning crisis, and dramatically impacted lives for so many families,” said McClellan, who has two young children. “This is a necessary investment into the children, families, workforce and economy of Virginia.”
Virginia Mercury | August 27th, 2020
August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month in Virginia, in accordance with the United States Breastfeeding Committee’s declaration of August as National Breastfeeding Month. Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D- Richmond, has a track record of sponsoring bills dealing with maternal-infant health, and has in recent years lobbied for increased breastfeeding awareness and access. McClellan sponsored the state’s Breastfeeding Awareness Month resolution in 2019, and made history in 2011 when she became the first breastfeeding member of the House of Delegates. The Pregnant Worker Fairness Act, introduced by McClellan in the Senate this year, became law in July. Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William, carried the House version.
“Essentially, this requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant and nursing mothers in Virginia,” McClellan explains. These types of employer accommodations include, for example, providing a private space to pump breastmilk or nurse – that is not a bathroom.7
The Washington Post | April 13th, 2020
By Gregory S. Schneider
Over the weekend, Northam authorized the omnibus Virginia Clean Economy Act, which mandates that the state’s biggest utility, Dominion Energy, switch to renewable energy by 2045. Appalachian Power, which serves far southwest Virginia, must go carbon-free by 2050.
Almost all the state’s coal plants will have to shut down by the end of 2024 under the new law. Virginia is the first state in the old Confederacy to embrace such clean-energy targets.
The actions “will create thousands of clean energy jobs, make major progress on fighting climate change, and break Virginia’s reliance on fossil fuels,” state Sen. Jennifer L. McClellan (D-Richmond), a sponsor of the omnibus bill, said in an emailed statement.
Rewire News Group| February 4th, 2020
By Dennis Carter
The Virginia legislature, under Democratic control for the first time since the early 1990s, rolled back years of anti-choice legislation last week when an omnibus pro-choice bill passed both the house and state senate.
The legislation eliminated a forced 24-hour waiting period and ultrasound requirement; ended inaccurate counseling for abortion care patients; and removed targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws, making more clinics eligible to provide abortion care