Category Archives: Civil Rights

RVA HISTORY: Strides of Strength

by Jon Baliles

Richmond unveiled a new sculpture last week on the site of the old Westhampton School (near St. Mary’s Hospital) that marked the desegregation of the West-End school in 1961. The 12-foot piece, entitled “Strides,” marks that day when 12-year old student Daisy Jane Cooper (now Jane Cooper Johnson) arrived as the first African American student following a three-year legal battle that took a U.S. District Court’s intervention. (Photo courtesy of Bon Secours.)

At age 9, Jane was having to travel five miles to get to the segregated Carver Elementary School. In 1958, civil rights attorney Oliver Hill submitted an application to the Richmond City School Board on behalf of Jane’s mother to transfer Jane to the all-white Westhampton School. The State Pupil Placement Board rejected the request, which led to the lawsuit that lasted three years and resulted in a groundbreaking victory in 1961. It impacted not only Richmond City schools but other localities as well — and the ruling meant that African-American students no longer required permission from the State Board to attend a white school.

A year after first walking through the doors of Westhampton, Cooper also became the first African-American student to integrate Thomas Jefferson High School in September 1962, after deciding she wanted to go there instead of the all-black Maggie Walker High School. Continue reading

U.S. Constitution Calling Jason Miyares . . .

by Jock Yellott

Affirmative action is unconstitutional, said the U .S. Supreme Court last June.

But we’ll keep doing it until somebody tells us not to, says Virginia’s Department of Transportation. In some quarters, it seems we’re seeing Massive Resistance to the Supreme Court’s ruling.

An especially absurd, and ongoing, affirmative action boondoggle called the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program magnifies the cost of Virginia roadbuilding … and causes minority lay-offs. Yes: it’s hurting the minorities it is supposed to help.

Recently, a Charlottesville small business won a city contract to build a bike path. But the Virginia Department of Transportation told the City: deny them the contract. Not enough “good faith effort” to go find minority subcontractors, they opined.

Losing the contract means laying off the small business’s employees. Nearly half of whom are minorities. Continue reading

Virginia Legislation Would Penalize Lack of Diversity in Firms Seeking Economic Development Aid

by Hans Bader

Teacher Vacancies in Virginia Cities with a Majority of Black Students Continue to be Very High

by James C. Sherlock

The statewide performance of Black kids on Virginia’s SOLs was horrible. Chronic absenteeism is a primary reason.

But I continue to look for underlying reasons and solutions for both.

This morning I checked the Staffing and Vacancy Dashboard.

The teacher vacancy rate for Region 2, Tidewater and the Eastern Shore, is currently the highest in the state at 7.62%. That statistic combines teachers and special education teachers aides and paraprofessionals. There are 3,115 unfilled positions in Region 2.

That region has been the worst in the state for a long time.

The next highest is Central Virginia at 4.9%. Southwest Virginia is lowest at 2.28%.

Region 2 vacancies both in actual numbers and in percentages are always high because school staff vacancies in Hampton Roads’ majority Black urban cities, and their proportion of the region’s public-school population, drive them up.

The data reveal that in divisions with majorities of Black students in the rest of the state, some are very high and some not.

Petersburg, as such things happen, is off the charts.

But there are a major differences in teacher vacancies, and in student performance, between Black kids in Black majority urban cities (Suffolk is a officially a city but not urban) with the honorable exception of Hampton’s Black student SOL scores, and those in Black majority rural counties.

We should perhaps look at what vacancies can tell us.

And another time at what the City of Hampton Public Schools has been doing right for so long. Continue reading

The “Chanukah Dilemma”: Is the Menorah a Religious or Political Symbol?

Chabad-Lubavitch of Williamsburg Rabbi Mendy Hebor leads a menorah lighting at William and Mary.

by Ken Reid

Thursday night is the final night of Chanukah, the eight-day Festival of Lights that I (and millions of Jews across the world) celebrate, to mark the miracle that occurred when the 2nd temple was restored following a rebellion by religious Jews against secular Hellenistic Jews and their Greek-Syrian allies in the 160’s BCE.

Because of the Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel, in which 1,200 Israelis and other nationals were murdered by Hamas thugs, Chanukah has a really special meaning this year – bringing “light” to conquer the “dark” (i.e. Hamas).

But while the ongoing war has united Israelis, and probably most Jews worldwide, there is a deep divide in the U.S. and other nations on whether Israel’s response in Gaza is inhumane; some 18,000 Gazans have died in Israel Defense Force (IDF) aerial bombing and ground attacks.  The pressure, mostly from the far Left, for a permanent ceasefire keeps pressing on,  

Enter the controversy about lighting a menorah in public at a recent Williamsburg arts festival.

There, the board of the festival voted not to allow CHABAD of Williamsburg to light a menorah at the festival, thinking it was a one-sided political statement for Israel.  Arguments also were made that this is a religious holiday, and the festival was to be secular – although Christmas decorations and Christmas stuff abounded there  But then a sop was thrown at Rabbi Mendy Heber to have a pro- ceasefire message there as equal time.

Kerry Dougherty’s  article on the controversy is here  but a more detailed article in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency is worth reading. too  

Chabad moved the menorah lighting to the William & Mary campus, but the incident went viral.  Gov. Glenn Youngkin denounced the arts festival’s ban and Chabad has complained to the Virginia attorney general’s anti-Semitism task force.

Is the menorah a religious or political symbol, both, or neither? Continue reading

Insufferable and Dangerous Nonsense in Academia – Antisemitism Sector

A rally on the steps of the University of Virginia Rotunda calls for a free Palestine amid the war in Israel on Thursday, Oct. 12. CAL CARY, THE DAILY PROGRESS

by James C. Sherlock

I read this morning in the latest issue of Chronicle of Higher Education a particularly smarmy article by a Keith E. Whittington.

He is, among other things, “professor of politics at Princeton University and founding chair of the Academic Committee of the Academic Freedom Alliance”.

Good to know.

He addressed in his article the Congressional hearing that put the presidents of Penn, Harvard and MIT on the hot seat for the unaddressed antisemitic turmoil on their campuses.

Other articles in the same issue called the hearings a disaster for the colleges.

“Since Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, administrators have struggled to respond. Many issued statements that faculty members, students, and others saw as tepid, while protests drove deep rifts into campus communities.”

Whittington’s was titled:

“Colleges Can Recommit to Free Speech or Double Down on Sensitivity – The congressional hearing on antisemitism presents a stark choice.”

He offered a false, self-serving choice of only two ways forward.

If President Ryan of UVa had joined the others in front of the committee, they could have gotten past statements to actions, and lack of them. Continue reading

Daughter of Heroines

Roanoke College women’s swim team (front row) and supporters at press conference at Hotel Roanoke, Oct. 5. (photo/Scott Dreyer)

by Margot Heffernan

The year is 2023 but it feels as if the calendar has rolled back a hundred years for women and girls in Virginia, and just about anywhere else in the Western world. Hyperbolic? Over the top?

Sadly, no.

Each day women are censored, denigrated, and erased; called bigots for speaking biological fact; losing to men in female sports; redefined with terms like “chest feeders” and “uterus havers.” Violent male felons are routinely housed in women’s prisons in at least four states because they “identify” as women. And private female spaces are ceded to biological men in schools and other public places.

Virginia is a microcosm of the problem writ large. Remember the scandalous sexual assault of two Loudoun County girls over two years ago that were perpetrated by a male who gained access to girls’ restrooms. Recall the recent Roanoke College attempt to hijack the women’s swim team by allowing a man to join. Then, on September 27th, at a Turner Ashby High cheerleading event in Rockingham County, several males entered the female locker room without consent from the girls. Some cheerleaders felt compelled to change in the shower stalls or bathrooms of their female-only locker room. Continue reading

Williamsburg Street Festival Engages in Ugly Antisemitism

by Kerry Dougherty

A monthly street fair in Williamsburg is making national headlines for all the wrong reasons: over the weekend news broke that the organizers banned a rabbi from a menorah-lighting ceremony. Unless the rabbi would light the candles under a banner demanding a ceasefire in Israel, that is.

Which raises the question, what is WRONG with the organizers of 2nd Sunday Art and Music Festival in Williamsburg?

According to its website, 2nd Sundays are street celebrations held on the second Sunday of every month from March through December.

These fairs feature about 150 musicians, artisans and entertainers and until now appeared to steer clear of controversy.

Rabbi Mendy Heber of Chabad Williamsburg said he had already been a part of the festival, offering loaves of challah as a vendor, and that plans for the menorah lighting were suddenly scrapped last month.

The Daily Press reports:

According to Heber, the planning for the original event to be held Dec. 10 was well underway when organizers abruptly reversed course in November, informing him that they would not move forward.

“We had started the discussion and they showed extreme interest and excitement in moving forward with it” until they pulled back, he said. Continue reading

Charlottesville, Its Public Schools and UVa – Part Three – CCS Abandons Truancy Filings, Absenteeism Soars

Courtesy of wallpaper.com

by James C. Sherlock

The effects of public policies can be murky.

Not this one.

The subject in this Part 3 is alarming chronic absenteeism of Charlottesville City Schools (CCS).  

At issue is the virtual abandonment by that division of the use truancy filings with the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, removing parental consequences.  

That change has been accompanied by enormous increases in absenteeism and everything, all bad, that comes with it.

The numbers are stark. Continue reading

Charlottesville, Its Public Schools and UVa – Part One – Bad things Happen

Charlottesville neighborhoods.  Courtesy Charlottesville Low-Income Housing Coalition

by James C. Sherlock

In the relationship between Charlottesville and the University of Virginia, very bad things have happened to Charlottesville and continue to do so.

I have developed a working thesis on that relationship.

The city is at the mercy of the University by virtue of the latter’s wealth, influence, and power in Charlottesville elections.

It is, driven by University community voters, the bluest voting district in the Commonwealth.

Unfailingly progressive Charlottesville city council, school board and Commonwealth’s Attorney candidates are elected by the dominant votes of the University, its employees and its students.

Charlottesville City Schools (CCS) are to a large degree creatures of the University.

Many CCS teachers have their bachelors and/or advanced degrees from UVa’s School of Education and Human Development. Many University ed school students do their student teaching in Charlottesville.

Every progressive educational policy and virtually every experiment the University’s ed school can dream up are visited on those students.  The University’s ed school Research Centers and Labs find the proximity convenient and a pliant school board welcoming.

The University can’t bear to leave anything in CCS alone.

As Charlottesville High School faces the aftermath of rising rates of violence at the school and three canceled days of school due to alack of personnel, teachers at the University and other community groups have assisted in the school’s response. Faculty from the University’s School of Education and Human Development were present at development sessions with Charlottesville High School teachers aiming to address underlying issues….

“Dr. Stephanie Rowley, dean of the University’s Education School, said faculty from Education’s counselor education and educational psychology programs were particularly involved with the efforts because of the relevance of their expertise.”

There is no record of their being invited.

“Lack of personnel”.  The teachers walked out because of runaway violence.

The University “lent a hand”.

“In light of the University’s recent push to bolster its impact in Charlottesville, some members of the University who specialize in education attended the teacher work day meetings at Charlottesville High School.”

Seriously.  To “bolster (the University’s) impact in Charlottesville”.

For Black children in CCS schools, that influence, long-running and well-meaning though it has been, has turned out to have been a disaster unparalleled in the Commonwealth.

Continue reading

Bari Weiss: “You are the Last Line of Defense”

by James C. Sherlock

Video courtesy of the Free Press.  See that link for a full transcript.  I recommend it to everyone.

Bari Weiss recently delivered a speech that will be long remembered.

She offered eloquence in the service of experience, sorrow and determination.  And defined the internal, and existential, threat to America.

I will share with you below short slices of the transcript.

She spoke to the Federalist Society about college radicalism turned antisemitism.  But not just antisemitism.

It is a radicalism that turns with threats, career assassinations and even violence on everything outside its very narrow, “intersectional” acceptance zone.  It is – proudly – a threat to America’s security and the western civilization it hates.

She would not have been welcome at some of Virginia’s most prestigious public IHEs.

And all of us know it. Continue reading

Sam Rasoul and Jewish Democrats in the General Assembly – An Uneasy Alliance

James C. Sherlock

Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, speaks at a pro-Palestinian rally in Roanoke. 
Credit: David Hungate, The Roanoke Times

Salam “Sam” Rasoul is a Democrat delegate from Roanoke.

He still publicly blames Israel for an explosion at a Gaza hospital that the western world’s intelligence services have blamed on an errant Hamas rocket.

Even The New York Times changed its story after jumping the gun on that report.

At the rally (pictured), The Roanoke Times reported:

Rasoul, a Palestinian … used his speech to call for an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, and for the U.S. to stop funding Israel’s war effort.

Apparently he did not consider that wearing his team’s colors in a war might not be well received by some in his party.

He will find that his words and actions will cause, at best, discomfort within his caucus in January.

Continue reading

Freedom, Consistency, and Tuesday’s Election

The capital city

by Shaun Kenney

One of the great things about being a conservative is that we are inherently an anti-ideology. As the late William F. Buckley Jr. once put it, the great task of the modern conservative movement is to stand athwart history yelling STOP!

Yet in a wider sense, it is far easier for conservatives to tack with the wind than our counterparts on the left. Liberals tend to wed themselves to institutions and then find themselves besieged by conservatives who continue to ask why and progressives who demand more on the what and how.

One of the particular demands on the conservative movement at present is whether or not we are a big tent or a fortress.

More particular is this: do we have to surrender what we believe in order to become more palatable to the wider public?

Or is there simply a better way of packaging what we believe and describing why it matters to working class families? In short, if what we believe has a kernel of truth to it, isn’t persuasion better than fighting?

The truth is that Republicans are far better at adapting what we believe to the times than our counterparts on the left precisely because we keep asking the same question over and over again: Does this expand the cause of human freedom — or not?

For Virginia Republicans, the sentiment is as old as there has been a Republican Party of Virginia — thank you General William Mahone. The maxim was best articulated by one Richard D. Obenshain, who by sheer force of will resurrected what we know as the present-day Virginia GOP from mere footnote to statewide conscience, serving as state party chairman in 1972 before his U.S. Senate bid in 1978. Continue reading

Conservative Boycotts Work

by Kerry Dougherty

In the first month after Dylan Mulvaney began promoting the Anheuser-Busch beer, sales of America’s most popular beer dropped 26.5% while Modelo’s were up 13.5%. The Mexican beer quickly toppled Bud Light as America’s best-selling beer.

Likewise, the June “Pride Month” boycott of Target resulted in a 5.4% drop in that company’s second quarter profits and caused Target to revise down its yearly numbers.

These are cautionary tales. Pay attention, Eventbrite.

The online platform that allows event organizers to distribute and sell tickets was targeted yesterday by Virginia’s Gov. Glenn Youngkin after he learned that Eventbrite unceremoniously dumped a “Protecting Women’s Sports with Riley Gaines” event at the University of California at Davis.

Riley Gaines, the champion collegiate swimmer who was forced to compete against Lia Thomas, a biological male, is on a mission to keep men out of girls sports. Continue reading

Crime and Punishment in Charlottesville

by James C. Sherlock

UVa and Harvard are the two campuses most often cited by the national and world press as homes to the worst actors after October 7.

It is easy work.

I posted a column on Saturday making a series of recommendations for actions by the University of Virginia to protect its Jewish community and rid itself of those that threaten it.

That was my response to the infamous support of UVa-funded organizations for the slaughter of innocents in Israel by Hamas, a group designated by the United States as a terrorist organization.

Kill Jews “by any means necessary” they wrote.

Read the column.  I named them.

Now I have been told by the Executive Director of Hillel at UVa, Rabbi Jake Rubin, that the President’s office and law enforcement “have been incredibly responsive, helpful, and present during this difficult time.”

Good start, and Virginians thank them for it, but it does not answer the questions about enforcement of state and federal laws.

So, there is more to do. Continue reading