August 2, 2022
The Honorable Glenn Youngkin
Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia
Patrick Henry Building 3rd Floor
1111 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Dear Governor Youngkin,
Clergy & Citizens Against Racism, Inc. (“CCAR”) is a Virginia nonprofit corporation and public charity. We formed in reaction to the racist killings at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston, South Carolina, in 2017. We are Virginians based in Richmond and intend on fortifying hearts to repel all vestiges of racism in our beloved Commonwealth. We pray that your heart is with us.
You are a Virginian. You grew up in Central Virginia and Tidewater. You lived in Northern Virginia during your business career. You know Virginia. You are one of us. CCAR is dedicated to maintaining Virginia’s positive path forward in race relations. We want you to understand our position and to be with us.
We want to understand your race relations agenda and be with you. Some of us are old enough to recall the oppression of Jim Crow. We fear Jim Crow might wake up and rise from the ashes in our beloved Virginia. We know that you, as Governor, have the power to keep that from happening. We pray that your heart and your governing agenda are with us.
We recognize how hard it is to govern and keep so many priorities moving forward simultaneously. We know how complicated it is to improve race relations in Virginia and that doing so requires intentionality and consistency. You’ve taken some steps forward, such as signing a proclamation urging Virginians “to honor the strides that African Americans have made and to learn, unite and celebrate as we continue to work and create a perfect union.” Yet, we are concerned that much more needs to be done.
We are proud that the November 2020 election in Virginia, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, was open, accessible, and fair, without intimidation, suppression, or manipulation. Yet, there were 30 bills introduced in the 2022 General Assembly that would have made future elections in Virginia less open, accessible, and fair. In our Commonwealth, the vote is a precious right for each of
We hope you would not have signed any of those 30 bills into law if they had reached your desk and would likewise not sign any future bills of that kind.
We are proud that Virginia public school educators can now teach an honest version of the history of Virginia. Some of us are old enough to remember the false public-school version of history that never taught us about the Jim Crow provisions in the 1902 Constitution of Virginia. Virginia politicians excluded the facts of slavery and Jim Crow from our textbooks. Honest history can be taught in Virginia public schools today. The content is available from our excellent Virginia public and private colleges system. As pastors and religious leaders, we understand your concerns about divisiveness – we have all struggled with this in our congregations. But fear of divisiveness must not lead us to ignore the truth and address uncomfortable truths in our congregations or the commonwealth.
History is taught so that society can apply history’s lessons for the future of our Commonwealth. Some have suggested that your 2021 political campaign fomented opposition among Virginia parents to teaching Virginia’s honest history in our public schools. We hope and pray that this was not your intention. We don’t need Jim Crow poking his head out of the ashes in Virginia. We hope your heart and agenda as Governor are not in step with that aspect of Virginia’s sordid history. We pray that you support the teaching of the honest history of Virginia in our public schools. Please use your power to keep Jim Crow buried in the ashes in Virginia.
Another area that would benefit from an honest examination is the significant childbirth health care disparities between Black women and White women in Virginia. We pray that you support a thorough and objective study to analyze those disparities and to allow the facts to suggest how the differences might be narrowed or eliminated. We appreciated your comments expressing concern about racial health inequities after Dr. Colin Greene, your State Health Commissioner, downplayed the role of racism in health disparities. We are concerned that Dr. Greene may not be the person to help Virginia address its glaring racial health disparities.
We are grateful for your commitment to supporting Virginia’s historically Black colleges and universities. These schools are a critical component of our higher education infrastructure. We also support higher education opportunities for immigrant students. We hope that in the future immigrant student scholarships will not be pitted against money for Black colleges and universities as occurred in the most recent budget amendment.
CCAR is grateful that hard and honest work has allowed Virginia to make steady progress in fostering positive race relations. CCAR is steadfast in its efforts to continue that positive progress for our Commonwealth. As pastor of Third Street Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church and president of CCAR, I hope you will seek the total health and well-being that all Virginians deserve.
Prayerfully, yours truly,
Rev. Reuben J. Boyd Jr. President
Clergy & Citizens Against Racism