Nice Time: Women Not In Blackface Run Virginia Now
Democrats won majorities in both chambers of the Virginia legislature last year. We can now fully bask in that victory. Eileen Filler-Corn was sworn in today as the first woman speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates. This legislative body has existed for 401 years and women were around for most of that time, so it's long overdue.
Filler-Corn is Jewish, which is another first. She also congratulated Charniele Herring, who is now both the first woman and first black majority leader.
FILLER-CORN: This session brings many firsts. We will have the first women of color to lead committees and have a historically diverse group of committee chairs and vice-chairs. And these leaders are Members of the most diverse House of Delegates in Virginia history. This House is not only diverse in terms of race or gender. The Members of this House represent a wide range of experience, thought, orientation, religion, and backgrounds. We are truly a body that represents all the people.
Virginia has trended blue for a while now. Both US senators are Democrats. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton each carried the state during their presidential races. Flipping the House means we can accomplish more legislatively while building a strong bench for future statewide races.
Last year, Gov. Ralph Northam moonwalked out of his blackface scandal in part because everyone in the line of succession was either worse or a Republican. We'd personally go ahead and just make Filler-Corn governor, because there's no allegations against her for blackface or rape.
Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn addresses 2020 House of Delegates www.youtube.com
Just last year, the Virginia Senate spent its time celebrating Robert E. Lee's birthday. Richard Stuart gave a speech on the Senate floor honoring the man who waged war against his own country. Now, Stuart sits in the minority, and the president pro tempore is Louise Lucas, a black woman. Stuart can put away the streamers and party hats for Gen. Lee, because Lucas isn't likely to tolerate such foolishness.
Sen. Lucas said, "It took 400 years but we're here and we're going to make a difference!" She ain't just whistling "Dixie," because like I said, they're not going to do that anymore. Northam has endorsed a House bill that would remove the state holiday for Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, replacing it with one for Election Day. Adding insult to injury for Lee and Jackson, black people would also vote on this day.
Democrats have an ambitious "Virginia 2020" plan that includes passing the Equal Rights Amendment, defending women's reproductive freedom, banning housing and employment discrimination against LGBTQ people, raising the minimum wage, advancing sensible gun safety legislation, fighting climate change, and expanding affordable housing. They're even going to improve public transit and Internet access.
Your vote counts. Don't let anyone tell you it doesn't. Even the less-sexy, non-presidential-year elections have a tremendous impact on people's lives and can literally make history.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.