RICHMOND—Today, the Virginia House of Delegates passed legislation repealing language from outdated Acts of Assembly which codified racial discrimination. The injustices in these old laws included de jure school segregation and housing discrimination, as well as restrictions on African Americans relating to public transportation, medical care, public documents, and public facilities.
“Although the scars of racial segregation still remain, we don’t need reminders in Virginia’s Acts of Assembly,” House Majority Leader Charniele Herring said. “It’s painful that these words remain on the books in 2020, and our votes today show the rest of the country that the Commonwealth has progressed.”
The Acts of Assembly serve as an official record of laws passed in Virginia, even if they have been overturned by courts, repealed, or expired. Although these Jim Crow-era laws are no longer in effect, their words are painful reminders of past wrongs.
“This language represents some of the darkest periods of Virginia’s history and serves no purpose in today’s code,” House Democratic Caucus Chair Rip Sullivan. “It is long overdue that we remove these vestiges of racism from the books, and I am glad that Democrats are leading the way to rectify years of legalized oppression.”
In addition, the House passed Delegate Delores McQuinn’s HB 1519, voting to create the Commission to Study Slavery and Subsequent De Jure and De Facto Racial and Economic Discrimination Against African Americans. The commission would examine the long-term impact of racial inequality on African Americans in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and report annually to the Governor and the General Assembly.
The bills passed today addressing prior Acts of Assembly include:
- HB 857 would repeal the Acts of Assembly segregating passengers on steamboats and residences in neighborhoods. The bill was filed by Delegate Joshua Cole.
- HB 914 would repeal chapters relating to segregation on railcars, streetcars, and buses. Delegate Jay Jones carried the bill.
- HB 973 would eliminate Acts of Assembly enforcing segregation in elementary and secondary schools as well as higher institutions between 1910 and 1960. Delegate Schuyler Van Valkenburg served as the patron for the bill.
- HB 1325 would repeal numerous chapters of the Acts of Assembly which instilled racial inequality and were recommended for removal by the Governor’s Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law. Delegate Lamont Bagby carried the bill.
- HB 1521 would delete certain Acts of Assembly referring to “feeble-minded colored persons” that enforced segregation of hospitals and funding. Delegate Delores McQuinn is the patron of the bill.
- HB 1638 would repeal Acts of Assembly from 1901 to 1960 which promoted racial segregation and discrimination in public facilities and public documents, including provisions enforced by the Office of the State Register. This bill was submitted by Delegate Alex Askew.