FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Virginia Interfaith Center commends Governor Northam for addressing racial inequities in Virginia law
RICHMOND, VA, June 4, 2019 – The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy commends Governor Northam for issuing an executive order to create the Commission to Examine Racial Inequities in Virginia Law. The Governor made the announcement during a bill signing with Senator Lionell Spruill, Sr., (D-5th) in Norfolk today. Kim Bobo, Co-Executive Director of the Interfaith Center, welcomed people to the press conference and affirmed the importance of addressing the racial impact of Virginia’s laws.
Senator Spruill’s bill, SB 1079, removes Jim Crow-era language from Virginia law. The language stipulated that “newsboys, shoe-shine boys, ushers, doormen, concession attendants, and cashiers in theaters” would be exempt from Virginia’s minimum wage requirements. These professions, historically held by African Americans, deserve to be paid at least minimum wage. The Virginia Interfaith Center helped to identify the inequities in the law and partnered with Senator Spruill and Delegate Marcia “Cia” Price (D-95th), who introduced a companion bill, HB 2473, to build support to help pass this legislation.
The Virginia Interfaith Center applauds Governor Northam, Senator Spruill and Delegate Price for their commitment to economic and racial justice, but our work has just begun. Virginia’s minimum wage law continues to exempt farm workers and domestic workers from receiving minimum wage. These jobs have been traditionally held by African Americans and now immigrants. There are countless other laws on the books that disproportionately affect low-income people and people of color.
Kim Bobo said, “In the year marking the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans to be sold into slavery in North America, we celebrate this victory, but we also acknowledge the pressing need to examine Virginia’s laws with a fine-toothed comb. We must remove laws that promote racial inequity and enact new laws to protect people of color and marginalized communities. This new Commission offers an opportunity to address the racism embedded in our laws.”
The Virginia Interfaith Center looks forward to working with the Governor’s Commission and faith leaders to make the Commonwealth a place of racial equity and justice.
Contact: Roberta Oster
Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy
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The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy advocates economic, social, and environmental justice
in Virginia’s policies and practices through education, prayer, and action.
VICPP is a non-partisan coalition of more than 700 faith communities working for a more just society.