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New Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears shares why she returned to politics

Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears
(Image: VPM News Focal Point)

Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears was a former Marine and credits gun confiscation laws against Black people for her staunch support of the Second Amendment. Sears, an immigrant to America at the age of six, began her political career as the first Black Republican woman in Virginia’s General Assembly. She later accepted presidential appointments, serving at the US Census Bureau, and on an advisory committee to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Sears continues to make history as the first Black woman to hold a statewide office.  

Her return to politics comes after a personal tragedy. In 2012, her daughter and two granddaughters died in a car accident. Sears says she came back to politics because of a desire to create change, “I have always believed you can either light a candle, or you can curse the darkness. To curse the darkness is to be a victim, and I am not a victim. And so to light a candle is to find the solution.” Sears is interested in promoting the idea that in America, you can be what you want to be regardless of race. 



Angie Miles: This is the image that raised eyebrows across the Commonwealth and across the country. We learned that Winsome Sears is a former Marine and a proud defender of the Second Amendment. 

Winsome Sears: Harriet Tubman, she carried a pistol for protection. The first gun confiscation laws were against Black people. Not going to have that happen anymore. Second Amendment means something, but I'm not going to ask for anybody's approval and I'm not going to apologize for it. I have a right.  

Miles: But long before she became the woman behind this weapon, Winsome Sears was an immigrant to America at the tender age of six.  

Sears: Well, my father first came in '63 and that was, of course, he wanted a better life. He wanted a second chance and America has always been that you know, for those of us who ache to be something different, something better. 

Miles: After high school, she studied as an electrician in the Marine Corps, and went on to earn a master's degree. She served as the first Black Republican woman in Virginia's General Assembly, defeating a longtime incumbent Democrat in a district that was mostly Black and democratic. She's accepted presidential appointments, serving at the U.S. Census Bureau, and on an advisory committee answering to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. The new lieutenant governor has also been a small business owner. And she says all of her endeavors are about being of service.  

Sears: I remember watching so many people in my family, especially my grandparents, you know, my grandmothers especially, and they were always helping people in some form or fashion. So I just want to serve. 

Miles: Her volunteering has taken her into Virginia's prisons, where she's conducted ministry work with people who might do well with a second chance. 

Sears: So I absolutely believe you did the crime, you've got to do the time, but while you're there, let's get some rehab going. You're obviously a person in crisis. Get education, whether it's a college degree, a trade certificate, whatever it is, so that when you leave, because they're going to leave, let's have them come out better than when they went in.  

Miles: This latest run in politics is somewhat of a second chance for Sears. After becoming the only Black Republican woman to serve in Virginia's House of Delegates, Sears took time away from politics to care for an adult daughter with health issues. In 2012, a car crash claimed that daughter's life along with the lives of Sears' two young granddaughters. 

Sears: I like to say they moved on to heaven and so when I look at it in heavenly terms, it's not so much of a tragedy. But I tell you when it first happened, you know, you get that proverbial knock on the door from the sheriffs, scripture came to mind from the Book of Job, and he suffered the same thing, and so it was, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. But I'll see them again, when it's my turn, 

Miles: Sears says she came back to politics because of a desire to create change where it was needed. 

Sears: I have always believed you can either light a candle, or you can curse the darkness. To curse the darkness is to be a victim, and I'm not a victim. And so to light a candle is to find the solution. Well, you can argue about whether you know our legislators are good or not, our presidents are good or not, or represent whatever. Or you can light that candle and put yourself forward and say, well, I'm going to ask you to elect me so that we can do things better.