Virginia panel says racist laws should be purged from state records

Acknowledging the past

After doing research, a Virginia panel is urging for racist laws to be removed the state’s records.

What We Know:

  • Led by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, a team was tasked with researching racist laws from the state’s past. The team consisted of nine commissioned members including attorneys, judges, scholars, and community leaders. Following their finding, they released the results in an interim report that called for dozens of laws to be repealed in order to purge the state’s books of discriminatory language.
  • Northam announced the formation of the commission in June during a ceremonial signing of a bill repealing Jim Crow-era minimum wage exemptions for jobs traditionally held by African Americans, such as ushers and doormen. Undergraduate and law school students and staff from the governor’s office assisted with research, which was difficult because the records of many of the Acts are only in paper form.
  • The report states, “The Commission believes that such vestiges of Virginia’s segregationist past should no longer have official status. The Commission will continue its careful and deliberate review of the Acts concerning the Confederacy and will await orderly judicial or legislative actions. 
  • The racist laws include measures that helped enforce the state’s strategy of “Massive Resistance” to federally mandated school integration, instituted a poll tax intended to keep black Virginians from voting, mandated racially segregated transportation and prohibited interracial marriage. The Commission also reviewed acts regarding Confederate statues and other issues related to the Confederacy but declined to make any recommendations about those items.

The group also noted that its work is not done and that its recommendations for repeal are not comprehensive.

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Natalia Barreau is a Digital Intern at Black News Alerts.

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