By Susan Laume:
Va. Lt Gov. Justin Fairfax was on hand to address protesters at the Beyond the Wall March for Justice in the Gum Springs community in Mount Vernon on June 9.
The United Methodist Church event was planned in coordination with civic leaders and drew approximately 500 citizens to the peaceful demonstration. Fairfax told the racially diverse crowd that, “I love what I see out here today — all nationalities who recognize that black lives matter every single day.”
He spoke of Virginia’s dark history with slavery, noting that the first slaves in America arrived at Port Comfort in Hampton Roads in 1619. As more than 400 years of racism have followed, he called for 2020 to be the “first year in the next 400 years when blacks are not shackled by the past.”
Fairfax said that his family history of slavery included the emancipation of his four times great grandfather by Lord Thomas Fairfax on June 5, 1798. He was made aware of the emancipation document found at the Fairfax County Courthouse not long before he took office, and he had it in his pocket during his swearing in ceremony.
Fairfax that day became the second African-American lieutenant governor in Virginia. Former Lt. Gov. Douglas Wilder was the first in 1985, and became the first Afro-American governor of a U.S. state since Reconstruction for a term from 1990-1994.
In a side chat with The Blue View, Fairfax said that he hopes to follow further in Wilder’s footsteps and will soon make a formal announcement of his candidacy for Virginia governor when the term of the current governor, Ralph Northam ends in January 2022.
Fairfax expects “a lot of effort in Virginia” in the current administration to pass legislation related to the police brutality and excessive force issues that have sparked world-wide attention.
Fairfax, who as lieutenant governor also serves as president of the Senate, said that Gov. Northam will call a special session of the General Assembly, likely in August. While it’s not certain what subjects will be covered yet, equity in law enforcement must be part of Virginia’s solutions.
He also noted that at the national level, discussion has begun on good policies such as banning ‘no knock’ warrants for drug entries, a data base of police fired for misconduct, prohibition of choke holds, and lower legal standards for pursuit of cases of police misconduct.
But “we can’t wait for Congress,” said Fairfax. “We need to change the culture and stop what we’ve been seeing with urgency now.”
Main photo: Justin Fairfax addressing peaceful protesters in Mt. Vernon on June 10/ Photos by Susan Laume
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