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For Virginia family, McClellan's swearing-in celebrates the present, renews hope for future

Posted at 11:07 PM, Mar 07, 2023

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Just a week into women's history month, new history was made on Tuesday night when Jennifer McClellan was sworn into Congress as the first Black woman to represent Virginia.

For Glen Allen's Linda Whitelow, the milestone was a lifetime in the making.

Whitelow's two granddaughters were by her side to watch the event on TV. I love the fact that my grandchildren will have that same excitement I had when I first learned Shirley Chisholm had been elected.”

Chisholm was the first Black woman elected to Congress in United States history in 1968.

“I remember to this day how excited I was. It stays with me every day,” Whitelow said, moments before the swearing-in ceremony commenced.

For Virginia family, McClellan's swearing-in celebrates the present, renews hope for future

Also watching the swearing-in was Whitelow's son, Carter Whitelow, a lobbyist who has formed a relationship with McClellan. He similarly finds the significance of this day to be deeper than just another first.

“It turns a dream into a reality that could be possible for them,” Carter said of the event’s influence on his young daughters and Black girls worldwide. “To all the little girls out there it gives them a chance to dream.”

His young girls, six-year-old Josephine and four-year-old Jacqueline, had the opportunity to meet McClellan at her Halloween costume party last year.

When asked what it was like to see a familiar face make history, their answer was simple: "Awesome!"

For Carter, Linda and the Whitelow family, McClellan being sworn in is a celebration of the past, an appreciation of the present and a renewed hope for the future.

“Think about the things my children are now going to think are now possible thanks to Congresswoman McClellan,” Carter said. “It's unbelievable.”

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