Blakely Lockhart is the only Gen Z individual running for a Virginia delegate seat in 2021.
HENRICO COUNTY – Who run the world? According to both Beyoncé and the prevailing theme of Network NOVA’s most recent Friday Power Lunch, “Girls.”
Unfortunately, Dogwood could not reach Beyoncé for comment. However, we were able to sit in on Network NOVA’s Zoom chat, “Not Your Mother’s Feminism: How Gen Z is reimagining equality.”
The segment focused on girl power and how Gen Z changed the framework of feminism by bringing intersectionality into policy and campaigning.
Event organizers welcomed several individuals to join in the virtual conversation. Segments ranged from the importance of women’s history with educator Jessica Berg and former student N’deye Sock to a conversation about growing as feminists between Genisus Holland and Joi Coleman of Girls for a Change.
Belan Yeshigeta, co-founder and executive director of Generation Ratify, discussed how her organization leads a feminist revolution that empowers and advocates for gender equality.
Annika Khandelwal, the at-large student representative of the Fairfax County Commission for Women, and Lisa Sales, chairwomen of the Fairfax County Commission for Women, spoke about how young women make a difference in their communities on gender equality issues. Khandelwal also demonstrated an app she developed – The Ripple App – which tracks volunteer and activism hours.
The noontime show wrapped up with a Virginia woman hoping to enact change through politics. Katherine White of Network NOVA spoke with Virginia delegate candidate Blakely Lockhart about how the youngest person running for the position planned to do just that.
How Did Lockhart Get into Politics?
Lockhart not only snagged the youngest slot on the 2021 ballot. Her candidacy also made history.
“I am the youngest person to ever run in Virginia,” Lockhart said. “I’m 22. You have to be 21.”
The candidate discussed her journey into politics, which began in college.
Lockhart attended Christopher Newport University in Newport News. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience, with minors in Leadership and Biology.
Originally, she planned to go into the medical field. However, while at school, Lockhart explored a different opportunity.
Lockhart became involved in her school’s political scene. She started by reinstating and presiding over Christopher Newport’s NAACP chapter. She also coordinated with her local delegates to create more voter registration drives.
“I made a lot of noise,” Lockhart said. “That’s the best way to put it.”
Lockhart’s activism put her at the center of the Black Lives Matter movement on campus last year, following the death of George Floyd.
“I got involved with just Black Lives Matter in general, kind of with the wave that happened last summer,” Lockhart said.
The then-student reached out to civil rights organizations, seeking guidance on the protests she wanted to have on campus. Lockhart noted that the university she attended had a predominantly white student body.
“I did not stay quiet,” Lockhart said. “I proposed a ton of initiatives.”
Switching it Up
Parts of Henrico, Goochland, Louisa and Spotsylvania Counties make up the 56th District, where Lockhart based her campaign. The candidate described the area as “very rural.”
“I got involved because, well, I was asked to get involved. But basically, to change up who was running,” Lockhart said. “We need to start changing that up completely and kind of break that mold of the stereotypical candidate that runs.”
Breaking the mold is a challenge Lockhart consistently accepts.
“I do that, being a women – being a biracial woman. I have blue hair, you know?” Lockhart said. “And I’m coming for this guy.”
Looking back, the candidate alluded to parts of her life that paved her pathway toward politics.
“I think at some point, I knew I would get politically involved, growing up,” Lockhart said. “I’ve been an activist, and not necessarily, like, politics, but just a strong advocate for women’s rights. That’s what I’ve been doing. So this was unexpected, but a lovely unexpected opportunity that fell into my lap.”
The Main Goal For Lockhart
Lockhart hit the campaign trail with more than simply winning the seat on her mind.
“My main goal is to honestly get young people out, excited [and] interested,” Lockhart said.
Her goal isn’t as simple as it sounds.
“There’s just so much animosity around government right now, especially after this past year – and honestly, the past four years,” Lockhart said. “I really think that a lot of young people are turned off completely from the idea of government, participating in government. And we need to change that.”
In addition, Lockhart said she wants to show the process of running for office.
“Like, where do you start? What forms do you sign? What petitions do you need?” Lockhart said. “Stuff like that to just get more young people excited and say, ‘Oh, okay, she’s doing it. That’s how it happens?’”
Amie Knowles reports for Dogwood. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org