To kick off Black History Month, Gov. Glenn Youngkin highlighted important African Americans throughout Virginia’s history, despite not wanting to address historical and present racism into Virginia’s public school systems.
Feb. 16 Update: On Feb. 15, Gov. Glenn Youngkin tweeted out a photo of him with a few of his cabinet members on a visit to Ft. Monroe, the site where the first documented Africans entered Virginia in 1619. “It was a reminder of why it’s important to tell all our history,” he said.
Also on Feb. 15, the Virginia House voted on party lines to pass House Bill 787, that states that “training or instruction on certain concepts in public elementary and secondary education,” also known as “divisive concepts, would be declared as “unlawful and discriminatory practice.” House Democrats introduced ten amendments to the bill, which were rejected by House Republicans. The amendments, if added, would’ve clarified what is a divisive concept or not. It also included topics like the murder of Vincent Chin, the 3/5 Compromise, Jim Crow laws, the story of Ruby Bridges, and the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision.
Under HB 787, large swaths of Virginia’s history would not be addressed, going against Youngkin’s statement that “it’s important to tell all our history.”
Gov. Glenn Youngkin issued a proclamation on Feb. 1 in honor of Black History Month, where he highlighted African Americans throughout Virginia’s history. He mentioned former Tuskegee University Principal Booker T. Washington, first Black female bank founder in US History Maggie L. Walker, and other notable individuals.
When he announced the proclamation on Twitter, Youngkin said: “The First Lady and I invite all Virginians to celebrate, recognize, and honor the many Black leaders, pioneers, and barrier-breakers that have enriched, cultivated, and strengthened the Spirit of Virginia.”
While Youngkin’s proclamation called for Virginians to “celebrate our rich history” and “acknowledge that diversity … strengthens our commonwealth,” his actions also speak volumes. Less than three weeks into his four-year term, Youngkin has:
- Supported Republican Del. Glenn Davis’s House Bill 127, which would undo efforts to increase diversity by making admissions processes to governor’s schools “race-blind.”
- Signed Executive Order One on his first day in office, banning Critical Race Theory from Virginia schools despite no school in the commonwealth teaching the subject.
- Created an email tip line for parents to report potential instances of “Critical Race Theory” and “divisive practices” in Virginia classrooms.