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Gov. Northam announces members of commission to examine racial inequality in Virginia law

Commission members will make recommendations to address laws that enable racial discrimination or inequity.

RICHMOND, Va. — Governor Ralph Northam on Tuesday announced the members of the Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law.

The Commission will review the Virginia Acts of Assembly, Code of Virginia, and administrative regulations to identify and make recommendations to address laws that were intended to or could have the effect of promoting or enabling racial discrimination or inequity. 

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Northam signed an executive order on June 4 which makes the commission. That was almost four months after a racist picture on Northam's 1984 yearbook page at Eastern Virginia Medical School. The photo shows one person in blackface and the other in a Ku Klux Klan outfit.

The new commission was inspired by Senator Lionel Spruill and Delegate Marcia Price on Senate Bill 1079 and House Bill 2473. It encouraged the commission's mission to identify similar remainders of racially discriminatory language on Virginia’s books.

This Commission is part of the Northam administration’s ongoing work to right historical inequities in areas like education, healthcare, and access to business opportunities.

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“The members of this Commission are experts, scholars, and community leaders with diverse backgrounds and deep knowledge of civil rights, equity, and the law,” said Governor Northam. “Racial discrimination is rooted in many of the laws that have historically governed our Commonwealth—identifying and eliminating racist and discriminatory language will help make Virginia more equitable for all who live and work here.”

The first meeting of the Commission will take place on Monday, September 9, 2019, at 1:00 p.m. in the West Reading Room of the Patrick Henry Building located at 1111 East Broad Street in downtown Richmond. The Commission will issue an interim report with its findings and recommendations by November 15, 2019.

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The Commission will be chaired by Cynthia Hudson, Chief Deputy Attorney General of Virginia. The members appointed to the Commission are:

  • Andrew Block of Charlottesville, Attorney and Former Director, Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice
  • Henry L. Chambers, Jr. of Henrico, Professor of Law, University of Richmond
  • Jill Hanken of Richmond, Health Attorney, Virginia Poverty Law Center 
  • The Honorable Mike Herring of Richmond, Partner, McGuire Woods and Former Commonwealth’s Attorney, City of Richmond
  •  Cynthia Hudson of Richmond, Chief Deputy Attorney General of Virginia
  • Carla Jackson of Chesterfield, Assistant Commissioner for Legal Affairs, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
  • The Honorable Birdie Hairston Jamison of Richmond, Retired Judge, Richmond General District Court
  • The Honorable Jerrauld Jones of Norfolk, Chief Judge, Norfolk Circuit Court
  • Leslie Chambers Mehta of Chesterfield, Chief of Staff and Counsel to the CEO, Richmond Metropolitan Transportation Authority

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