HAMPTON, Va. — Winsome Sears is set to make history this weekend as the first woman of color to become Virginia's lieutenant governor.
Days before being officially sworn into office, she paid a visit to Fort Monroe in Hampton Monday to tour the site of the first enslaved Africans arriving in English North America more than 400 years ago.
The Fort Monroe Authority updated Sears on the fort's current upkeeping efforts.
"When I ran my fingers along the wall where it said '20 and more negroes', I felt a little shock," Sears said.
Sears, who defeated Democratic opponent Hala Ayala in November's election, will become the first woman of color elected to serve in the Office of the Commonwealth. The Republican Party will soon control the top three offices for the state, as well as the House of Delegates.
When asked, Sears named education as one of her main goals as lieutenant governor. And at a site with the earliest ties to slavery, Sears made the argument that not every lesson learned there is necessarily an ugly one.
Sears has publicly gone on the record for wanting to eliminate critical race theory from Virginia schools.
Critical race theory evaluates systems of racism and challenges people to make changes, based on the concept that racism exists not only as a form of individual prejudice or bias but as something embedded into laws and policies.
As previously reported by 13News Now, critical race theory is not officially part of the statewide curriculum.
“I don’t subscribe to the victimhood that some people like to put on us as Black people. We have survived and thrived and overcome. Redlining, overcome that. Racism, overcome that," Sears said.
Sears previously stated that people should look at "The good, the bad and the ugly" when examining American history.
13News Now asked her which of those categories the history of Fort Monroe falls into.
"It’s all three. There is good, bad and ugly in it," Sears said.
When she officially gets sworn, days after the General Assembly convenes, she said she will focus to make sure she represents all Virginians, even the ones who didn't vote for her.
“I am now the lieutenant governor of my former opponent. When she calls me, and asks to seek redress from her government, I must answer her, I must help her."