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Students, Elders Divided On Northam's Racial Reconciliation Tour

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam did not show up to a service today honoring the Richmond 34 – a group of 34 Virginia Union University alumni who marched from the campus to a sit-in at a downtown department store in 1960.

President of the university’s Student Government Association Jamon Phenix said he was excited to hear that Northam listened to his letter asking him to come another time.

“The mandate was clear,” Phenix said. “He heard our message. And that’s all that we could ever ask for.”

Phenix says he looks forward to discussing issues of education and voter equity with the governor this spring. Meanwhile, one of the Richmond 34 – Elizabeth Johnson Rice – wanted to make sure that Phenix didn’t speak for them.  

“There are some of the Richmond 34 that feel very much that he shouldn’t have come,” Rice said. “But there are many of us that feel he should. And…how can you reconcile something if you’re not there to reconcile it?”

Rice and other were invited to breakfast with Northam Friday morning.

Former Mayor Dr. Dwight Jones brought up the scandals during a chapel service titled “Faith, Identity, and Social Justice.”

“I want to suggest this morning that the situation we find ourselves in today is a wake-up call,” Jones said. “That what we have been called on to hear today is a blaring siren reminding this community of our need to renew our commitment to advocacy and social justice.”

Megan Pauly reports on early childhood and higher education news in Virginia
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