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February 2, 2019

The Commonwealth of Virginia continues to experience and suffer damage from its past as a state in which Jim Crow ruled, schools and colleges were segregated by law, and elected officials took purposeful action to deny black people the right to vote and participate as equals in our schools, civic life and the workplace.

The structural racism of our past has not been purged from our systems or our own lived experiences. White supremacy and white fragility remain common realities in our daily lives, too often accompanied by overt and implicit violence. The contemporary refusal of our legislative leaders to support expunging the Jim Crow felon disenfranchisement provision from our constitution and grant universal suffrage to all Virginians, to purge the Jim Crow provisions from our minimum wage laws to ensure equal pay for all or to confront the reality that Virginia is one of 12 states where a majority of the people in our prisons are black reveal how much work remains before the infrastructure of inequality that exists in Virginia can be broken apart and deconstructed.

To accomplish this work, Virginia must have a leader of unquestioned moral authority to lead us in dismantling systems and structures that support the continued oppression of people of color.

The ACLU of Virginia believes that Ralph Northam’s admitted past actions, combined with his failure to surface and address them before others called him out, disqualify him from being that leader.