February 24, 2021
Delegate Plum and Jane Plum with Congressman Bobby Scott (left) and former Governor L. Douglas Wilder (right).
In this Issue
  • Commentary: Celebrating Black History
  • Latest Updates on COVID-19
  • Bulletin Board
  • What Can I Do?
  • Check your Calendar
Commentary

Celebrating Black History
One of the meaningful traditions that has evolved in the Virginia House of Delegates over the last couple of decades has been the celebration of Black History Month by having a speech each day on the House floor about famous Black persons and their struggles and accomplishments in the Commonwealth. According to History magazine, Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976 the month of February has been designated as Black History Month and is celebrated around the world, including in Canada and the United Kingdom.
 
Virginia has a unique role in Black history. The first enslaved Blacks arrived in Virginia in 1619, and the labors of these persons were central to the growth of the Virginia colony and then state. It was Black laborers who built the grand plantations’ homes and the institutions of higher education while themselves living in meager housing and refused entrance into public schools and colleges. It was Black slave labor that built the early Virginia tobacco economy while being denied all but the most limited income. Black persons supported the lifestyle of the most prominent Virginia families with no public recognition of their accomplishments. As significant as were Jefferson’s words that “all men are created equal” in the Declaration of Independence, they did not apply to the slaves in his household nor to the Constitution that counted them as 3/5ths of a person.
 
The Emancipation Proclamation, the outcome of the Civil War and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment did not result in equality under the law for Black citizens. Under federal Reconstruction government about one hundred Black citizens were elected to public office between 1869 and 1890 including a Black congressman, but a swift reaction by conservative whites led to Jim Crow laws and voting laws that quickly curtailed the power of Black voters. The 1902 Virginia Constitution that included a literacy test and poll tax for voting limited the number of Black voters to such a degree that they did not regain their numbers at the turn of the century until the 1990s.
 
The recent history of voting in Virginia offers reasons to celebrate. There are more Black members of the Virginia General Assembly today than at any time since Reconstruction. There are two Black congressmen from Virginia. The Lieutenant Governor, the President of the Virginia Senate, and the majority leader of the House of Delegates are Black. The General Assembly has made historic strides in repealing Jim Crow laws, expanding voter participation and reforming criminal justice laws and practices that discriminated against persons of color. Virginia was the first state to have a Black governor, and for the nominations to run this fall there are at least two Black women and one Black man running for governor, two or more Black men running for lieutenant governor and at least one Black man running for the attorney general nomination. There are ample reasons to be celebrating Black history in Virginia this month and throughout the year.

Latest Updates on COVID-19

Fairfax County

2/23/2021 — Fairfax Health District Not Participating in Statewide COVID-19 Vaccine Registration System At This Time. Read the announcement.

2/23/2021 — Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19 Vaccine Registration. Read this Fairfax-specific information.


Virginia

2/23/2021 — Tune in Wednesday (2/24) at 11:00 a.m. for the Governor’s update on #COVID19 in our Commonwealth. View it here.

2/23/2021 — Governor Northam Unveils Statewide COVID-19 Vaccine Pre-Registration System. Note: Fairfax County opted out of the statewide system. Read the details.


Nationwide

2/23/2021 — What Older Adults Need to Know about COVID-19 Vaccines.  Read the information from the CDC.

2/23/2021 — President Biden Issues a Proclamation on Remembering the 500,000 Americans Lost to COVID-19. Read the proclamation.


Bulletin Board
OLLI at George Mason Offers Discounted Membership
Learn more about OLLI membership here. Visit Spring catalog to view upcoming offerings.
Growing a Greener World Episode 1008: Bringing Nature Home
Wonderful video that quickly sums up what we need to do in our yards to save the natural world. Watch the video.
Still Need 2021 Health Coverage?
You can enroll in Marketplace health coverage February 15 through May 15 due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) emergency. Learn more.
What can I do? Civic Involvement
Learn What Fairfax County Is Being Challenged to Do
for Equity and Opportunity
Read the report and recommendations here.
Calendar of Events
Wednesday, February 24, 7:00 p.m., Online Candidate Forum. Meet candidates running in the Reston Association's 2021 Board of Directors Election and ask questions in this debate-style candidates' forum. Use this information to join: Join Zoom Meeting: http://bit.ly/2NcH3wA. Meeting ID: 980 6959 8425. Passcode: 137024

Saturday, March 6, 10:00 a.m.to 4:00 p.m., Archaeology Symposium: Hidden Histories. Stories are lost to time for many reasons. They do not get written down, accounts get lost, artifacts disappear, buildings are torn down, oral tradition forgets them, the landscape has changed. Archaeology can help! This free online event will bring to light stories long hidden from sight. From shipwrecks to enslaved people who left little written record, to structures long gone, to stories simply forgotten, there is something for everyone in this program! The four talks will be divided between two Zoom sessions. Register here. More information on the presentations is at Archaeology. View or download a flyer here.

Wednesday, March 10, 9 :00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., 2021 Fairfax County Housing Symposium (virtual). The Housing Symposium will bring together local leaders, members of the business community, educators, healthcare professionals, housing industry and policy experts, advocates and neighbors as we elevate the conversation on affordable housing in Fairfax County. The theme for this year’s event is “Affordable Housing: A Foundation for Strong Economies, Healthy Communities and Thriving Schools.” Learn more and register at Housing Symposium.

Thursday, March 11, 12:30 to 2:00 p.m., Co-Creating a New Northern Virginia: An Emerging Vision of a More Inclusive, Sustainable, and Equitable Region. Our region is more awake and alive, more committed to inclusion, sustainability and equity than ever. Government, social, and private sector actors are leaning in together to address entrenched and complex local issues. We are coming together as a region to institute real change. Join us for the most interactive and participatory Shape of the Region Conference to date.
Registration is $40 and includes an e-copy of keynote speaker Nancy Giordano’s book: LEADERing, THE WAYS VISIONARY LEADERS PLAY BIGGER. Learn more and register at Shape of the Region Conference

Sunday, March 14, 2:00 p.m., Gun Violence Awareness Vigil at National Rifle Association headquarters, 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax. The vigil commemorates the anniversary of the day 26 children and educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Please DO NOT park in the NRA's parking lot. There is plenty of free parking in the office building lot on Fairfax Ridge Drive across Waples Mill Road. Signs and flags will be provided. Most protesters will drive past the NRA with signs taped to their car windows or doors. Those who want to social distance and wear masks will stand on the sidewalk.

Wednesday, March 24, 4:00 to 5:00 p.m., Issue Forum: Leading Systems Change, sponsored by Georgetown University's Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership. In this important time of transition, it is imperative that we work to create sustainable change for a more equitable and just society. Register here for this free online event.