Last week, I called for the immediate removal of the leadership at VMI, including the Board of Visitors, or the resignation of Governor Northam.
It appears that my call has been met with the Superintendent’s resignation. That is not enough, the culture at VMI needs to be changed. This should have been brought about by the Board of Visitors and still needs so to be done.
We should not have taxpayers’ dollars wasted on frivolous investigations when facts are so obvious, you’re blinded by them.
I am sharing my remarks and the recorded video below from last Thursday’s Policy Pathways virtual event; I was honored to be the recipient of the 2020 Policy Leadership Award.
I will have more to say on this topic tomorrow. Join me on the John Reid Show, WRVA, at 9:05 am.
Well, let me thank you, Dr. Lucas, and to Gary Flowers, Senator McClellan, Senator Warner, Jim Dyke, and to all of those who have spoken prior to my being here. It’s humbling, to receive this, and I think Policy Pathways will continue to provide pathways and roadways and highways for people who are really, really deserving and needing the kind of leadership that you speak of.
The Black Lives Matter movement, sparked by the killings of unarmed persons across our nation, has led to much discussion about the rise of racism in America. Now I have had quite a bit of experience dealing with and eradicating racism, as we have seen it.
When I was elected Governor some thirty years ago, many people thought that we had signaled the end of that era continuing in our state and in our nation. We’ve seen the removal of statues, but, I maintain, after that, what? So you take the statue down but what’s in its place? That sentiment still obviously remains in so many instances.
Last year, we experienced right here, state officials being exposed as having paraded and masqueraded in blackface. The Governor, current Governor, and the Attorney General. Now, these weren’t a hundred years ago, these were new statues that had been built. Of course, they have said things differently now, they have asked for forgiveness, and they have said they want to move on.
But the revelation of institutional racism practiced and preached at VMI as has been pointed out by Jim Dyke, has brought us to the tacit realization that racism is still here. Now, the Governor and the Attorney General are charged with the responsibility to enforce the law and to protect the citizens of Virginia from racial discrimination.
I was asked some while back as to how I felt about whether either of them should resign and I didn’t say anything too much other than to say that that was a decision that was up to them. And yet I said this, that after having watched the Governor and his press conference that he should better know what he needs to do.
Well what bothers me, and Jim Dyke put his hands right on it, we are VMI. VMI would not exist but for us, and I’m speaking about the taxpayers of Virginia. We spend more money on VMI, I am told, than on any institution of state government in terms of a university in Virginia.
Now, as Jim Dyke pointed out, you think that I would have said that I’m going to appoint a commission to study something for a year maybe or more, or less, doesn’t matter, a year or so, and spend taxpayers’ dollars to do it, when we’ve got the evidence right before us? The students and the people are there to tell you what they’ve seen and what they’ve heard. How long do you have to wait before action has taken place? And you see now why we need the leadership that I speak of?
That’s why with me it’s never been easy. Oh, I was told I should not run for office, period. I shouldn’t run to be the first state senator since Reconstruction. Why? I couldn’t win. I won. You’re going to run for Lt. Governor? You’ve got to be crazy! We can’t have that. I ran. I won. Now that’s okay… you’re carrying it a little too far.
And yet I was told that when I didn’t know that the state song was “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny” a lamentation of a slave saying once he dies he wants to go back to Virginny to be reunited with ‘Ole Massa’ and ‘Ole Missus’ and when they all die he wants to join them in heaven. Can you believe this is the mentality? Oh, it took me seventeen years, they stopped singing it right away, I hadn’t even been sworn in, hardly.
And yet, I’ve seen what they’ve tried to do with some of the black colleges and universities here. Virginia State College, almost wiped out, I had to come as a state senator and try to save it.
And so I would say to the young people here, we need leadership. We need leadership at all levels. We don’t need people who call themselves leaders.
Leadership is a tautology. It defines itself. It means to do just that, to lead; to demand what is right and to criticize what is wrong. And don’t give a damn about what others will say about you and that will come from friends, that will come from people that you thought were friends, that will come from supporters.
Right now, in America, there is no one who questions at all as to whether Joe Biden could win this election, this November, without massive, strong support from what community? From the Black community. Oh, you’ve got to know that. And yet the Black community is still asking the question, alright when is my time going to come? When is our time going to come?
When are the Historically Black Colleges and Universities going to receive their fair share? They carried the burden for years. I don’t care whether it was a state-supported school or not. My alma mater, Virginia Union, produced some of the finest that you could have… first Black admiral in the Navy from Virginia Union, Sam Gravely. First Black doctor graduated from the Medical College of Virginia — my classmate, elementary, high, and college — Jean Harris. And yet, all the time that was being carried, where were they getting any funds and monies from to support those kids?
So, we have a responsibility, a big one. I would say to Governor Northam today, do it. Take the action. And if you don’t know what to do, say that. If you’ve got to wait for a study commission to tell you what to do, then that tells us that you don’t know what to do.
So, the people of Virginia, particularly you young people, demand it. Criticize. Be a part of the decision-making process.
I will persist until I succeed because I was never delivered in this world in defeat, nor does defeatism flow through my blood or the blood of my ancestors. I don’t want to be associated with the sheep, sleep with the sheep, because the slaughterhouse of failure is not my destiny and I will persist until I succeed.
You do that. Go, and do it, and I will be there with you. God Bless You.