House Republicans Stymie Black Lawmakers Memorial

“Why would House Republicans oppose honoring the first African-American lawmakers?” said Senator Mamie

In recent weeks, House Republicans have twice condemned early African-American lawmakers to undeserved obscurity.

In the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, and for almost forty years afterwards, dozens of African-Americans served as Delegates and Senators in the General Assembly; many others were representatives at Virginia’s Constitutional Convention of 1867-1868.

 “These lawmakers overcame tremendous adversity in order to serve their fellow Virginians,” said Senator Henry L. Marsh, III (D-Richmond). “Nearly all came from humble beginnings, and many were born into slavery. Their courage and tenacity ought to command our utmost respect; unfortunately, though, their accomplishments have been largely forgotten. They deserve to be remembered.”

Earlier this year, Senator Marsh and Delegate Jennifer McClellan (D-Henrico) introduced SJ 89 and HJ 64, which would have honored these path-breaking public servants with two simple plaques in the Capitol. Seemingly intent on burying their memory, House Republicans have stripped away the language that actually authorizes the plaques.

“These forgotten lawmakers clearly deserve our honor and respect, yet they have been forgotten for decades,” observed Senator Mamie E. Locke (D-Hampton). “Why would Republicans oppose honoring them with a plaque in the capitol?”

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