Happy September! Virginia kids, including my own, are back in school. Best of luck to all the students, teachers, administrators and support staff for a safe and successful year!
It’s already a busy month, and here is an update on The Voting Rights Act of Virginia, monuments, elections, COVID-19, House and Senate page programs, and so much more!
VOTING RIGHTS ACT OF VIRGINIA
This Monday, Governor Northam ceremonially signed the Voting Rights Act of Virginia (my SB 1395 and Delegate Marcia Price’s HB 1890). The VRAVA proactively protects voters from intimidation, suppression, and discrimination. It outlaws voting standards, procedures, or practices that disproportionately impact minority communities and requires more extensive public engagement on election changes.
In his final days, Congressman John Lewis reminded us, “Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part…” I’m proud to pick up the baton with Delegate Price to protect voting rights in Virginia for generations to come. This landmark legislation goes against the grain for southern states. While Republican-controlled states like Texas and Georgia are doing their best to make it harder to vote, Virginia is ending Jim Crow-era voter suppression tactics once and for all.
You can watch the ceremony here.
Delegate Price and I discussed our work on this historic legislation on the Democracy Nerd Podcast. Listen in here.
This morning, Democracy Docket, the news website focused on voting rights and election litigation founded by law attorney Marc Elias, published a joint Op-Ed by Del. Price and I. You can read the piece here.
ROBERT E. LEE MONUMENT
Last Wednesday, I watched in awe and amazement as the Commonwealth’s largest Robert E. Lee statue was removed from its pedestal on Monument Avenue. It was an incredible moment, which you can watch here.
I issued the following statement in response to the statue’s removal, which you can read here.
Thursday morning, I joined First Lady Pam Northam and Delegate Jeff Bourne to place a time capsule in the base of the monument containing artifacts selected by a committee of historians from the Richmond region’s leading historical and cultural museums, members of Governor Northam’s cabinet, and myself. You can learn more about the artifacts and how they were selected here. Crews were unable to locate a time capsule believed to have been placed in the cornerstone in 1887 after a 12-hour search.
Earlier this year, the General Assembly commissioned the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to gather input from experts and the public to develop a new vision for the Monument site and the Monument Avenue corridor. The VMFA must present a plan to the Governor, Secretary of Education, and the Chairs of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance and Appropriations Committees by Sept. 1, 2022.
EMANCIPATION & FREEDOM MONUMENT
I am excited to announce that the Virginia Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Commission’s Emancipation & Freedom Monument is in its final stages of completion and will be unveiled in a dedication ceremony on Sept. 22, 2021 at 10 am on Brown’s Island!
The monument began as part of the Commission’s commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the abolition of slavery in the United States. Designed by Thomas Jay Warren of Oregon, features two 12-foot bronze statues representing a man, woman, and infant newly freed from slavery. Dedicated to the contributions of African American Virginians in the centuries-long fight for emancipation and freedom, the monument highlights notable African American Virginians who have made significant contributions to the emancipation and freedom of formerly enslaved persons or descendants.
The base of the monument features the names, images, and brief biographical information of ten African American Virginians whose lives were dedicated to Emancipation and freedom — five individuals from the period before Emancipation through 1865, and five who continued to work for freedom from 1866 to 1970.
You can learn more about the monument here.
Early voting in Virginia begins this Friday, September 17th! This year we are holding important elections for the offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and House of Delegates. To register to vote, update your current Virginia voter registration, apply to vote absentee by mail, and more visit the Virginia Department of Elections Citizen Portal.
A few important dates:
This month, Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) opened four weekly COVID-19 vaccination hubs:
To learn more about all available COVID-19 vaccination opportunities, visit vax.rchd.com.
Need a copy of your vaccination record? You can also use the Vaccination Record Request Portal to view and print a record of your COVID-19 vaccinations.
SENATE AND HOUSE PAGE PROGRAMS
Do you know a student who will be between the ages of 13 and 14 in January who has an interest in state government? They should apply to serve as a Senate or House Page!
Applications for the 2022 Senate and House Page Programs are now available. The deadline to apply is Friday, October 18th at 5:00 pm for the Senate and Monday, November 1st at 5:00 pm for the House. Click here for more information and for application instructions.
We’re fewer than 50 days from Election Day, and I’m helping as many candidates as I can to keep Virginia Blue! Here are some upcoming events that may interest you. Click on the links below or contact Courtney McCargo at [email protected] for more information or to RSVP.
Today begins Hispanic Heritage Month and we celebrate the diverse cultures and many contributions of the more than 800,000 Latino residents who call Virginia home! We must lift up and center the perspectives and experiences of these Virginians as we work towards a more inclusive Commonwealth.