Northam signs law repealing language relating to school segregation

virginia

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Betcha didn’t know that in Virginia “no child shall be required to enroll in or attend any school wherein both white children and colored children are enrolled.”

Or that the state still had the authority to declare an emergency to close schools in the event of forced integration.

These and dozens of others from the Jim Crow and massive resistance scars on our history remain on the books.

On Wednesday, Gov. Ralph Northam signed into law House Bill 973, sponsored by Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg, D-Richmond, which repeals discriminatory language on Virginia’s books relating to racial segregation in Virginia schools.

The effort started with the appointment by Northam of the Commission to Examine Racial Inequality in Virginia Law to study the Virginia Acts of Assembly, Code of Virginia, and administrative regulations and identify racist and discriminatory language that may no longer have the effect of law, but remains on Virginia’s books.

The Commission identified nearly 100 instances of discriminatory language in its interim report, and will continue to make recommendations to address laws that were intended to or could have the effect of promoting or enabling racial discrimination or inequity.

“During the Jim Crow era, racism and discrimination were written into laws that were used to enforce segregation and inequality across the Commonwealth,” Northam said. “Words matter, and there is no reason for this overtly discriminatory language to remain on our books. I am proud to sign this bill to move Virginia forward.”

“As an educator who has spent fifteen years teaching the Constitution, its values, and Jim Crow’s perversion of both, I am humbled to have played a small part in removing some of these last stains of the Jim Crow era from Virginia’s code,” VanValkenburg said. “This is an important step in the direction of justice for communities that have long suffered the injustices of racial segregation.”

Story by Chris Graham


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