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Lawmakers to study impacts of slavery, Jim Crow laws in Virginia

Posted at 10:02 PM, Jun 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-10 22:02:58-04

RICHMOND, Va. — The first two appointments have been announced for a soon-to-be-formed commission that will study and recommend remedies for the "racial and economic discrimination practiced against African-Americans” through studying the current impact and long-term inequities of slavery in Virginia.

Virginia House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn announced Wednesday she had appointed Del. Delores McQuinn (D - 70) and Del. Joshua Cole (D - 28) to “The Commission to Study Slavery and Subsequent De Jure and De Facto Racial and Economic Discrimination”.

It was McQuinn’s bill, HB 1519, that passed in the last General Assembly session and led to the creation of the commission.

The commission will be comprised of 11 members. McQuinn and Cole, from the Virginia House of Delegates, one from the Virginia Senate (appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules), and eight non-legislative members appointed by the Governor.

“We'll basically be looking at…the role that Virginia actually played in the enslavement of Africans, the Black Code, Jim Crow, and Massive Resistance. All of these were oppressive, very oppressive laws and practices that was constituted and instituted to…oppress a race of people,” said McQuinn. “This 11 member group of commissioners…will be tasked with helping to…make certain that we have the authentic history documented and then share it publicly and then make recommendations as to how do you bring about some kind of reconciliation as it relates to this.”

McQuinn added there is a timeliness to the start of the commission’s work with the on-going protests related to the killing of George Floyd.

“We're right now in the present embroiled in a situation because of systemic racism. Systemic racism still impacts African-Americans every day and it's been very visible recently,” said McQuinn.

The commission will report its findings and recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly.

“There needs to be some things that are done intentionally and deliberately to help address these disparities before we are at a point that the next generation will be able to have a much better life and…prosperous life, as well,” added McQuinn.

“The pain and frustration we have seen across our Commonwealth and our Country requires leaders to take swift action to fix the severe inequities in our society. This Commission will play an important role in facilitating the change that is so deeply needed,” said Filler-Corn. "I thank Delegate McQuinn for her vision in patroning this legislation that will help the Commonwealth to eliminate systemic and institutionalized racism. I know that Delegate McQuinn and Delegate Cole, both clergy members deeply committed to bringing change to Virginia, will represent the House of Delegates with great distinction on this important commission.”

The commission can begin work as soon as July 1, but McQuinn said their first meeting has not been set yet as not all members have been appointed.