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Richmond Rally Shows Support for Black Women In Office, Encourages Others To Vote

Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Alicia Garza and Care In Action Organizer Ai-jen Poo
Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Alicia Garza and Care In Action Organizer Ai-jen Poo rallied women of color in Richmond ahead of Tuesday’s election. (Photo: Malcolm Key for VPM News)

Ahead of Tuesday’s elections, a coalition of liberal groups held a rally in Richmond to encourage women of color to vote. 

The Black Women Vote Rally featured a number of Democrats who are candidates in the election, including Ghazala Hashmi, Sheila Bynum-Coleman, Senator Jennifer McClellan, and Delegate Lashrecse Aird. The event was put together by Care In Action, an advocate for female workers across America. 

Alicia Garza, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter and advisor for Care In Action, also attended the rally. When discussing the value of electing women of color to office, Garza said they know what it’s like to be sidelined in politics. 

“We have a different kind of experience that we bring to the table. So, it is important for women of color and black women to be in leadership, because what we do when we lead, is we make sure nobody gets left behind,” Garza said.

Currently, there are more African-American lawmakers in the General Assembly than at any point since Reconstruction. If Bynum-Coleman wins, she will be the first black woman to represent the 66th House district. Garza said that it’s accomplishments like these that will exemplify a shift in Virginia’s attitude.

“It is a testament to the movements that have been pushing this state to change and to change for the future, and not to be stuck in the past,” said Garza.

With Democrats only needing a few seats to control the General Assembly, the outcome of Tuesday’s election could turn Virginia into a blue state and give Dems the upper hand on legislative issues. This would be the first time this has occurred since 1995.

Ai-jen Poo, an organizer for Care In Action, said this year’s election is a foreshadowing of what’s to come in 2020. 

“We believe that women of color are going to play a huge role in bringing us across the finish line,” she said. 

Poo also said “get out the vote” initiatives are making an impact in Virginia communities.

“I do believe that it’s those volunteers that have been knocking on doors and talking to their friends and neighbors that are gonna turn this country around,” she said.

Award-winning actress and activist Kerry Washington also stopped by to show support. She emphasized the importance of women of color showing up to the polls.

“If we don’t exercise, and promote and support our political voices, we’re in danger of losing those voices. That’s what we’re up against right now,” said Washington.

Black women will be a key aspect in terms of voting results around this time next year, during the 2020 election. 

VPM Intern Malcolm Key reported this story.

VPM News is the staff byline for articles and podcasts written and produced by multiple reporters and editors.