Will give state workers this Friday off, propose legislation to make state holiday permanent
RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that he intends to mark Juneteenth as a permanent paid state holiday, starting by giving state employees a day off this Friday, June 19. Virginia has long marked Juneteenth by issuing a proclamation, but the date has not previously been considered a state holiday.
Juneteenth is the oldest known commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. It marks the day in 1865 that enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, the last of the former Confederate states to abolish slavery, finally heard that the Civil War had ended, and learned that the Emancipation Proclamation had made them free nearly two years earlier.
“Since 1619, when representative democracy and enslaved African people arrived in Virginia within a month of each other, we have said one thing, but done another,” saidGovernor Northam. “It’s time we elevate Juneteenth not just as a celebration by and for some Virginians, but one acknowledged and commemorated by all of us. It mattered then because it marked the end of slavery in this country, and it matters now because it says to Black communities, this is not just your history—this is everyone’s shared history, and we will celebrate it together. This is a step toward the Commonwealth we want to be as we go forward.”
“This is a big display of progress and I am grateful for Virginia for leading the way,” said performing artist Pharrell Williams, a Virginia native, who participated in the announcement. “From this moment on, when you look at the vastness of the night sky, and you see those stars moving up there, know that those stars are our African ancestors dancing. They are dancing in celebration because their lives are acknowledged.”
This announcement comes days after Governor Northam announced the state will remove the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee located on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia. Earlier this year, Governor Northam also successfully proposed ending a state holiday that celebrated Confederate generals and making Election Day a state holiday in its place.
“State holidays are a statement of dates we think are important to all people,” said Speaker of the House of Delegates Eileen Filler-Corn. “Making Juneteenth a state holiday raises its significance and will help educate Virginians on the meaning of Juneteenth in the history of our country and our Commonwealth.”
“Juneteenth is a time for reflection, conversation, and action,” said House Minority Leader Charniele Herring. “A Juneteenth state holiday is an important step toward affirmation of Black history in the Commonwealth.”
“As we work to make changes in our systems, symbols matter too,” saidSenate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw. “I support adding Juneteenth as a state holiday, to ensure that the ending of slavery is commemorated and celebrated.”
“After years of work by many people, there is momentum and will to truly change our systems to make them more equitable to African-American people,” said Senator Mamie Locke. “A state holiday commemorating the day Black people learned they were free helps ensure that all Virginians learn about, and value, how significant that event was in the history of this country.”
“There are many steps Virginia can take to advance justice and equity, and that includes adding a state holiday to mark an event that was critical in the lives of millions of Black people,” said Delegate Lamont Bagby, Chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.
When the Suffolk Democratic Committee meets once a month at LeOtis Williams’s LW Center in Suffolk, members often leave food donations for the food bank that Mr. Williams’s runs in the same building.
But the committee hasn’t met recently.
With all the turmoil going on in the nation – lost jobs and canceled events from Covid-19, and now destruction and fear, it’s important to remember that food banks are suffering right at a time when they’re needed the most.
The Guardian listed increases in demand reported by several food banks throughout the nation, and the figures vary with some reporting 8 fold increases and others at about 20 percent. The Suffolk News Herald noted in April a 14 percent increase in people asking for help from the Suffolk Christian Fellowship.
I spoke to LeOtis Williams by phone last month, and he said he is still accepting donations at his property management office at 615 E Pinner St. His office can be reached at 757-925-0747. The April article in the Suffolk News Herald recommended the “Donate Now” link at foodbankonline.org, the website of the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and Eastern Shore.
I attended a Black Lives Matter rally at City Hall tonight, in light rain, although it was still going on when I left at about 7:15. As far as I could tell, it was primarily organized by Eric Knight who is active in Suffolk. It was peaceful and dignified. Mr. Knight and other speakers called for peace, unity across demographics, and in what might even please the “what about Black on Black crime?” crowd, said that he was tired not only of crimes committed by police, but by people in the neighborhoods.
There were no nasty insults against the police, although there were calls for rules to ensure police accountability. For their part, a few officers where parked across the street near the library at a respectful distance.
City officials who were in the crowd were invited to speak, and among those who spoke where Clerk of Court Randy Carter, who spoke about the importance of registering to vote and voting.
I was proud that a rally in my city could be so peaceful, but mindful of the fact if we want rallies to be peaceful, then peaceful rallies have to make a difference.
Trump dodged Vietnam. I wouldn’t be as bothered if he dodged the draft but at least had enough courage to protest the war if he didn’t think anyone should kill or die for it. But when someone lies to get out of a war and is happy to have others go in his place, that is cowardice.
We know it took him almost two years to visit troops in combat zones, and when he did so he did with extreme precautions, and took no more risk than his wife did.
Now in recent days we’ve seen him tweeting with outrage as he hid in a bunker after turning off the lights in the White House. Later, in an attempt to show bravery, he had the military violently clear Lafayette Square of protestors so he can safely walk across for a quick photo shoot before scurrying back to the White House.
Why can’t so many of us see that he’s a coward?
Some of us think he’s brave because he talks like a tough guy. It’s the same reason so many thought John Wayne was brave. Trump has cultivated his tough guy image for decades. Back in 1991 he had the New York Daily News publish a story about Trump stopping a mugging. That story quoted an anonymous witness to describe Trump’s heroics, but at least one real person disputes it.
Another reason we think he’s brave is he’s reckless. But Trump isn’t reckless with his own safety. As a born-millionaire entrepreneur, he can afford to be reckless. If you have enough money, you can try one thing after another and you don’t have to win them all – you just have to win more than you lose. It doesn’t hurt Trump when any one of his businesses fail because he has others. It only hurts people who lose their jobs, pensions, or investments.
Trump took that recklessness with him to the White House. Trump was reckless when he taunted Kim Jong Un with childish name-calling. But who would suffer if a nuclear armed madman in Asia were to retaliate? Not Trump. Most likely, just our allies in South Korea and Japan. And what a rallying cry it would be if Kim were to harm innocent people on the other side of the world. We’d nuke North Korea and hail Trump as a hero.
Which brings me to the final reason so many fail to see Trump for what he is. He’s dangerous. We’re not wired to see the difference between danger and bravery. Think about at how many organizations use dangerous animals as their logo. But a cobra doesn’t bite because it’s brave. It bites out of fear. And that’s the same reason Trump had peaceful protestors tear gassed at Lafayette Square.
Thinking about what a coward Trump is and why so many can’t see it, it becomes clear why so many of his fans feel the need to arm themselves for Starbucks.
(edit notes: I fixed some grammatical errors since originally posting)
This has been a tough couple of weeks for our country and I feel compelled to post some thoughts that have been boiling in my head.
Twitter’s recent decision to fact-check Trump for blatant lies that are easily disproven through academic research, studies and empirical data is not the same as “deciding what is true”, or “being an arbiter of truth” as Mark Zuckerberg was quoted as saying. When drawn out to its logical conclusion, that ludicrous line of thinking is so incredibly dangerous. Are we to place no value on the scientific method? Is all research & data suspect? THIS is why our institutions are crumbling. Because rich jerkoffs like Zuckerberg would rather look out for their bottom lines than lift a finger to curb the cesspool of misinformation Americans digest EVERY SINGLE DAY. Zuckerberg is also obscuring the fact his own company explored algorithms to reduce misinformation, but scrapped it because it was too expensive. He KNOWS this is a problem for his stupid little website, he just doesn’t want to lift a finger or spend any capital to fix it.
Also, spare me that “social media discriminates against conservatives” bullshit. MAYBE STOP SPREADING LIES TO KEEP YOUR DYING PARTY PROPPED UP, JOIN THE REST OF US HERE IN TRUTH-WORLD, AND YOU WON’T FEEL SO OPPRESSED. Maybe stop supporting a morally bankrupt megalomaniac President who called for the MURDER of black American citizens in Minneapolis, while calling the white supremacists who terrorized Charlottesville “very fine people”. The same guy who gassed & shot rubber bullets at peaceful protesters in Lafayette Park so he could get his yearbook picture taken with someone else’s Bible in front of a church whose clergy are horrified, I repeat HORRIFIED, would be used as a prop in that fascist’s re-election effort.
Take one moment out of your day and digest this statistic: Despite only making up 13 percent of the United States population, Black Americans are two-and-a-half times as likely as white Americans to be killed by law enforcement. Let that sink in. Let that TRUTH wash over you. Now, remember that statistic the next time you open your mouth to criticize the chosen tactics of protesters, or to dismiss them as looters, rioters, or “left-wing extremists”.
Justice for George Floyd. Justice for Breonna Taylor. Justice for Ahmaud Arbery. Justice for Eric Garner. Justice for Sandra Bland. Justice for every black American who’s had their lives snatched away by some racist white asshole.
I understand that I was born into privilege as a white man, and I will NEVER fully understand the depth of racism, police brutality, and inhumanity the black community must face every day living in America. That said, I’m here to listen. I’m here to support black communities and black businesses in any way I can.
BLACK LIVES MATTER. FUCK WHITE SUPREMACY. FUCK TRUMP.
Given Facebook’s resistance to checking statements made by politicians, and Twitter under heavy heat for doing so, and with new technology allowing us to create fake videos of people saying things they never said, and with scores of foreign and domestic players spreading lies and misleading content, I beg you to be wary of false information and to check your facts before re-posting. And if you can, support fact checkers and journalists because they’re fighting for truth under difficult circumstances