I watched the events, and tragedy, of this past weekend in Charlottesville unfold with the same emotions many of you experienced: dismay, anger, frustration, fear, anxiety... followed by conviction and resolve.
America must learn that the most effective chance at change for the good is not by being the loudest. It is not by being the most forceful. It is by convincing a majority that your position has merit, but doing so one heart and mind at a time. Any attempt to shortcut that is setup for failure. By way of example, I personally could have tried to shout from rooftops my campaign message, but that method does not allow for clarification, especially with an unfamiliar message, just reinforcement. If your message was taken incorrectly, that too is reinforced. I opted instead to reach out to my neighbors, individually and in small groups, to share my vision for representing the 89th District. It is in these settings that thoughtful discussion can emerge with understanding, even if no agreement is reached.
The current laws of Virginia allow for history to dictate the present. What was good and desireable then may not be the case now. State law should not unduly prevent a locality from choosing a new course. Indeed, sometimes we must look at existing laws and contemplate their modification. I will work very hard to build bridges and coalitions in Richmond to bring about the change that would allow localities to bring up a referendum on the disposition of any given monument. Let the people decide. Certainly a local majority of citizens should have the freedom to choose their course over a handful of legislators.
Current Virginia law prohibits the removal of monuments, legislation that has stood since the 1950’s during the days of segregation. I believe the time is now to change the current law to give localities the option to hold referendums on the removal of Confederate monuments. Moving monuments isn’t changing or erasing history. It just changes where that history is stored.
Recently in Norfolk it was a referendum that allowed the people to replace appointed school boards, another holdover from segregation, with elected school boards. The referendum to remove the monuments could work in much the same way. Citizens could petition for a referendum on their removal or the governing body could vote to place the question on the ballot for an upcoming election.