District 4 is Now the Jennie Dean District

March 24, 2011
Dear friends,
 
I am pleased to tell you that District 4 is now the Jennie Dean District.   The vote by the Board of Supervisors stimulated much discussion; but in the end, the supervisors decided to go along by a wide margin.  As a result, probably for the first time in the history of Virginia, and certainly in Loudoun, a district has been named after an African-American!   Loudoun leads the way, again! 
 
Just returned from the victory party.  It feels great being part of creating something not only all African-Americans can be proud of, but also all Virginians.  But the real praise rests with the Baptist Prosperity Church, its Pastor and the children and mothers who came tonight, one of whom was the oldest living descendant of Jennie Dean, a woman in her nineties who felt it important to lobby for an historical vote.  They set up their own rally, created home-made signs, sent emails, and called around the county and the region to build support.  They were the true victors, making this a grass-roots effort, and that’s the way it should have been.  I have no idea of what party any of them are and never asked.  This was about the people, about doing the right thing, not about party.
 
To get to this point of course required a lot of preparation by a lot of people, as well as discussions with the Library of Virginia in Richmond, the Virginia Historical Society, and the Black History Committee at the Balch Library, all coordinated and led by the members and friends of the Prosperity Baptist Church, especially Reverand Lawson, and true progressives around the county and region.  Kelly Burk of  Leesburg led off this evening on a very positive tone with a discussion of the historical facts and significance related to the vote.  One of the things I am particularly proud of was how bi-partisan the effort was.  In my case, I contacted all of the Supervisors, including Republicans and Independents.  Though the financial well-being of the church was a campaign project (which did very well), I worked as a private citizen, not as a candidate, to advance the name change for District 4.  Of course, anything a candidate does is considered “political” by someone, so it was also wonderful to hear Sally Kurtz in a loud, strong voice of reason, with beauty, intelligence and passion, remind all who might doubt, that this effort by so many people was the best kind of politics, something to be proud of.   She also rightly reminded us that it was the kind of politics one runs to, not from.  Only someone very shallow of character could think otherwise.  Jim Burton, Andrea McGimsey and Kelly Burk were also brilliant in their support.  Even Eugene Delgaudio rose to provide a wonderful, warm tribute.  
 
Success was indeed bi-partisan and in the best tradition of what politics is supposed to be about –  helping people and doing the right thing.   That’s our Loudoun, our Virginia, and now our Jennie Dean District, and this was a very important moment in my life, for sure.
 
Have a great evening.  
 
Larry Roeder
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About LarryRoeder

Over 35 years in the US Government, first in the US Army Security Agency and then the US Department of State, with assignments in Albania, Egypt, Belgium, France, Sudan and elsewhere, retiring in October 2005 as the Policy Adviser on Disaster Management. Wored as the United Nations Affairs Director for WSPA, the World Society for the Protection of Animals, with a focus on poverty reduction, emergency management and the reduction of hunger. Subsequently in 2010 a contractor/advisor on economic development and emergency management, working on the Haiti and Somaliland emergencies in 2010. In 2010, also signed a contract with Springer Publishing to write a textbook on the art of diplomacy. Born in Lebanon, the son of an American Diplomat. Frequent author of non-fiction articles on risk-reduction, anthropology, animal-welfare art.

25 thoughts on “District 4 is Now the Jennie Dean District

  1. Paradox13

    Larry, well said, and thanks for being a leader in this initiative. Loudoun does well to honor all of her history, and all of her citizens, and this District naming is one small step on that path.

  2. BlackOut

    The first thing that comes to my mind when hearing Dean in reference to Loudoun is the M.C. Dean company. Look them up on VPAP, I am not impressed.

  3. Liz Miller

    Black Out, that is my first thought too. I did tell Larry that if he was going to push for this name, that he should make sure it was the full name that was adopted. Instead, just the last name was adopted.

    I can see it now, the Republican nominee could very well be “Dean for Dean!”

  4. Larry roeder

    The proposal we made was for Jennie Dean. One hopes that when the proper announcements are made by staff, that this will clear. Such a common last name.

  5. Barbara Munsey

    It is common in the area, because it was a large family.

    Charles Dean, the cousin of Jennie, was the resident of Conklin who donated the land for Prosperity Baptist and contributed to its founding.

    Jennie Dean was a resident of Prince William, where she is noted for founding the first secondary educational institution for freed slaves.

    The name may actually be better as recognizing the family, because Jennie Dean herself was not a Loudoun resident.

  6. Paradox13

    Thomas Jefferson wasn’t a resident of Loudoun either, but that didn’t stop the County from recognizing his contributions with a District name at one point.

    Jennie Dean is a worthy name for the District.

  7. Epluribusunum

    It would be great to be able to associate the name with something positive – thanks for sharing the story. For that to happen, it has to be Jennie Dean. It’s ok to use the name in Loudoun – created boundaries divide families and communities all the time.

  8. BlackOut

    Maybe they should call it Jimmy Dean. This whole process has been like watching sausage being made.

  9. Larry Roeder

    See today’s great article on Jennie Dean in Washington Post, Community News pages 20-21, as well as yesterday’s front page of Lourdoun Times.

  10. LarryRoeder Post author

    Time to move on to things like responsible fiscal restraint, enhanced jobs creation, broadening the tax base, paying for schools (especially in the sciences) and creative solutions to transportation. Glad to see that Tom Bellanca and Mike Kontratick are focused on enhancing the economy. This is so very important. Both are great guys who will win in November. Same for Malcolm Baldwin, who agrees with me that fiscal restraint is important.

    One thing I am interested in particularly is developing incentives for creative firms that build things we need. See page 15 in http://www.loudoun4roeder.org/peacewingInteraction.pdf for an example. This article talks about a solar powered airplane concept called Peacewing developed by Dr. Albin Gasiewski of NOAA and myself in partnership with a small firm in Simi Valley. The plane could eliminate the need for cell phone towers!

    But we also need to remember that Loudoun isn’t an HOA or Town or Rural county. It is a mix, which is why many of us moved here, to be part of a balanced culture. Instead of trying to build walls between the different ways of living in Loudoun, let’s collaborate to mutual advantage. One way is to support livestock and agricultural business opportunities in Loudoun, e.g. perhaps an Eastern Market type all-year farmers market south of Braddock and to enhance livestock research facilities elsewhere in Loudoun and in the Jennie Dean District. Such ideas provide a market for our local farmers, preserving that sector, generate jobs and bolster revenue without raising taxes. In other words, instead of pushing HOAs, Leesburg and the rural parts of Loudoun apart we can build a healthy partnership that helps us all.

    I actually want to lower property taxes. We can’t tax and borrow our way to success. But to do that without violating our beliefs in fully funded schools and other essential services, we need fresh thinking on jobs creation and the support of commerce. Then we will generate the kind of revenue we need. A common sense Democrat approach to government and the economy.

  11. Ann

    And now, alas, led by Scott York, the BOS has reversed its decision on the Jennie Dean District and renamed it “Dulles.” York’s excuse was that the Dulles airport is the economic engine of Loudoun Co. (Waiting, of course, until the community appealing was no where in sight, so they didn’t have to face them in person. That is how prejudice always manifests itself.) Lofty words in person; betrayal behind closed doors.

    And the point is…..?

    No has asked to change the name of the airport. That would remain an icon and the term Dulles Area would not be diminished either.

    As for “economic engine,” as York calls the airport, well the ancestors of Jennie Dean built the economy in Virginia, pure and simple. Our shame and shadow over that fact keeps us whispering in back rooms and making up excuses not to honor the descendents.

    Community service and lifelong learning, moral instruction and the highest of values. We pay lip service, but no real acknowledgement that we truly value these things, if this is how we treat citizens who so demonstrate them.

    I am beyond disappointed. I am ashamed.

  12. Barbara Munsey

    Ms. Robinson, of course no one asked to change the name of the airport.

    The only person who asked to change the name of the district from that of the airport was the candidate.

    If you feel shame, why not direct it toward the office seeker and the board members who charged up that small community, and used them for political purposes?

    The only backroom whsipering was that which placed the project on a candidate website, with the candidate never once proposing it in public outside of that small church, and to his political party allies.

    Go watch the webcast of the one hearing on redistricting: the candidate sits for the entire public input in the bench in front of the camera, and never says a word. Where was the previopus public appearance to suggest it to staff, so that the public could comment on it at that one public hearing? Nowhere.

    No public proposal, just an insider campaign stunt that used those people.

    Used.

    That is where the shame should go, in my opinion.

    And I live here.

  13. Barbara Munsey

    LI, I can’t get past that “backroom” designation, when the entire original deal was done there instead of in the open, and used potentially vulnerable people in the process.

    And from a candidate who claims they’ll talk to everybody from all sides before they act on anything?

    Right.

  14. LarryRoeder Post author

    An amusing mischaracterization of the facts, Barbara. Frankly, I thought both the Dean and the Dulles proposals had pluses, and some detractors to our proposal had reasoned opinions which I respect. That said, some detractors who spoke or wrote against the Dean proposal were disrespectful and operated at a low level of society. I plan not to attack anyone. Hopefully, not attacking people’s character will be a refreshing change in Dulles District politics.

    As for the Dean proposal, it was well researched, had a lot of support, and the final decision is a missed historic opportunity of the first water. The Dulles idea, we were told initially by one Supervisor, was off the table, by his wish, thus opening the door for citizens to offer a fresh suggestion. There would have been more said to the public by our community, had the decisions on names not been rushed. No one was allowed to speak at the hearing you spoke of, so aupporters simply showed up, as did the HOA supporters. I wish to commend, not attack, both groups of citizens for supporting their points of view. That’s America. Of course, the BOS did have a failure to communicate in the second vote. Noone told anyone that there was consideration being given to change the Dean name back to Dulles. Regardless of the merits of the proposal, the process was mismanaged and was insensitive towards an important segment of our population.

    Thanks, by the way Barbara, for noticing that I was in full view of the cameras on the first vote, in other words in full view of the public I wish to serve. I don’t operate in the shadows. Where were you?

    Warm regards,

    Larry

  15. Barbara Munsey

    Larry:

    Supposedly “your community” consists of all residents of the district in which you’re running. How publicly did you consult any of them in either the larger populace, or the business community?

    Who spoke or wrote against the Dean proposal before it was adopted? No one, because it was never publicly proposed until it was voted on.

    The Dean proposal was not fully researched, nor was it well-conveyed to the maker of the motion, or it would not have included the misinformation that Ms. Dean was a Loudoun resident.

    I beg your pardon, but ANYONE is allowed to speak at a public hearing. That’s why they’re called that! Of course I saw you, and you saw me too, when I spoke, whether you knew it was me at the time or not.

    You have spoken at one public session, about getting help for the church to be hooked to utilities. That may have been the time to start raising the issue of naming the district, or at any one of the number of other public input sessions that occurred between that one brief appearance to discuss an issue for which there is no matrix for the county to act at this time, and the public hearing on redistricting, where you did not participate except by being present.

    That hearing certainly would have been the time to put your idea forward for public consideration, but you did not.

    The process of reconsideration is limited by the need to occur at the next meeting of the body voting. The majority of people who were NOT consulted before your idea was moved and adopted had no recourse other than that process, and I have no idea of the number or magnitude of those that expressed any difference of opinion.

    As for a rushed process, that too would fall at the feet of the same people who too-quickly adopted a name for political purposes.

    It does not change the fact that there are bi-monthly opportunites for input to the record, and none were taken.

  16. Epluribusunum

    It is tiresome to hear the meme “the race card” every time there is a need to pretend that our past was something other than what it is. If it were restricted to those occasions for which it might actually be descriptive, it would be unnecessary to say this, but the meme is deployed every single time there is an acknowledgment of race or racism, and is therefore virtually meaningless. It’s a term, like “political correctness,” that should be immediately dismissed as merely a device to shut down a conversation.

    Ann’s point, “the ancestors of Jennie Dean built the economy in Virginia, pure and simple,” is the undeniable truth, as shameful and embarrassing and painful as it may be for those of us who benefit from that uncompensated labor. It just was not that long ago in terms of human generations that white people owned black people as property.

    For those who are bold enough to say that the folks from Prosperity Baptist are being “used,” my question is this: Have you asked them? I have not, and will not, speak for others unless I have directly heard from them what they think. You might consider doing the same.

  17. Barbara Munsey

    I wouldn’t mind David, because the process used to create the name had no public consensus other than the very small portion of the total constituency that heard about it.

    Perhaps those who feel it was reconsidered “in the back room” would be so bold as to justify the fact that it was discussed there in the first place, rather than on the public record, and in the community at large?

    Did you ask the other 38, 950 potential constituents of the district what their opinion was?

    An opportunity was lost, multiple times throughout the process, to consider any results of that.

    Of course we have a history of slavery in Virginia. No one denies that. Is naming a district containing what we devote so much to in terms of marketing, and on which we depend so heavily for commerce, for a resident of another county, simply in order to say we did it first, the most important issue facing Dulles, or Loudoun?

    Is doing it first for the sake of doing so a good reason?

  18. Ann

    The entire responsibility for lack of good manners and proper process falls in the lap of the BOS and its leader, Scott York. They are the ones who accepted with accolades the name Dean. No one from the bench said “Thank you for your suggestion. We will be approving names at the next meeting. In the meantime, we welcome public input. Please email…… etc.” Now THAT would have been good process.

    Even at that, the decision to retract warm tributes and “yes” votes would have been more palatable IF York had contacted the Prosperity Baptist Church and especially the elderly (90 year old) descendent of Dean in advance and explained it. But to totally about face with a blindsiding opinion — and in the name of “economics” no less–(as though an airport and exemplary character cannot both be recognized) is worse than thoughtless. It is simply rude.

    As for “using a vulnerable population,” you are misjudging a very resilient people. We are fortunate to have such strength of character among our citizens. We do ourselves a disservice by not acknowledging it.

    It is rather Loudoun (and indeed Virginia) who has lost an opportunity to prove we are the people we like to think we are.

  19. Barbara Munsey

    Ms. Robinson, I agree that it might have been best if the BoS had done as you suggest in deferring a vote to a later meeting.

    However, that meeting was advertised as the meeting at which names would be adopted. It was in fact advertised as a special session of the BoS for that sole purpose.

    Mr. Roeder knows that, even if his remarks suggest confusion between that meeting, at which there was no public input, and the previous public hearing specifically on redistricting, at which he was present but sat silent.

    That hearing would have been the time to do it.

    In fact, any public input session preceding the public hearing would have been a good time too.

    But neither the candidate nor the BoS did it that way.

    There was no public suggestion or announcement on the record until Ms. Burk made the motion for Dean at the meeting convened to vote on district names.

    Mr. Roeder was able to be there with the people you reference, and there were even signs!

    All the time to do that, yet none to ever put it out for public comment or perusal before the staged show at which the vote was taken.

    I find it interesting that you evidence concern for the elderly relative of Ms. Dean, yet dismiss the idea that her feelings on the issue be described as potentially vulnerable with sweeping statement on “a very resilient people”.

    That makes quite a jump from an individual to a generalization.

    However, I am honestly certain you do not intend to sound patronizing there.

  20. Epluribusunum

    Maybe this was a rhetorical question, Barbara – but did you really mean to ask me whether I consulted the residents of the Dulles district about the naming issue? The answer, of course, is no. I wouldn’t have any reason to, because I am not claiming to speak for them, nor am I visiting blogs to assert that they are being “used” for something. All that I suggested is that if we are going to carry on a conversation about another community who is not present here and claim to know what they think, maybe we should have enough respect to ask them what they think first. At any rate, that’s what I expect (and rarely receive) for my own community.

    Both Larry and Ann seem to be personally familiar with the Prosperity Baptist community, so I’ll defer to them. From what I do know, however, it would seem to go without saying that they are resilient.

  21. Barbara Munsey

    Of course it was a rhetorical question David. I don’t even expect the candidate to speak to all 39K people before making a decision on their behalf.

    You DO attempt to speak for them/the district in various comments you have made on the issue on other threads and here, regarding the “need” to raise it for reconsideration to include the full name Jennie Dean.

    That attempts to speak for those who have invested personal money in going along with the county branding (which we have all invested in through our taxes) by naming their businesses “Dulles _______________”.

    Look at the county EDC logo that had people in such a tizzy after we spent multiple thousands on marketing to develop it: that little Dulles airport terminal sprouting fronds of flowers, crops, horses, etc

    Some were irate that it looked like a mishmosh, others wanted their own favorite aspect of the county depicted, but the base of the logo is quite true: an international airport is a big part of county business, whether people come here for corporate, historic, or recreational needs.

    It is easy to gain consensus with a small group of people who agree with you, and then with a majority of political allies with the power to vote your desire into law.

    Had the idea been publicly promoted and discussed in a manner to seek true consensus with numerous other constituency groups in the huge constituency that is a district in this county, not only would people not have felt so blindsided by the sudden fait accompli, but the people desiring that Dean name would have had a chance to try to build a consensus for the name.

    They still have that opportunity to do so for the elementary school that will actually be built nearly on the site of the old store and post office from which Conklin took its name.

  22. Ann

    You are right, Barbara, my intention is not to be patronizing. My concern for good manners is for our own sake. What kind of people are we to have such leaders? I just fought a year long battle for my own neighborhood to have consideration by Town staff. Too much (not just the District naming) is being done with too little regard for how people are treated in the process. But that is another blog for another day.

    Now, to address the issue of “branding.” This is a false argument. There is no need to change anyone’s advertising or letterhead that says “Dulles Area” this or that. The area around the airport will always be “The Dulles Area.” Renaming a voting district does not directly affect the branding of a market unless the business owner wants it to. We could number our districts, like Congress does, and that would have no effect. Neither does having the Electoral Board call them by a different name. The address is the same, the “area” is the same —

    And, Barbara, I actually think there are issues you and I could agree on –and someday we might choose to get together and explore what those are. Now wouldn’t THAT be a public spectacle! ha ha

    Think about it.

  23. Barbara Munsey

    I think we could agree on a number of issues, and whether or not that is worth a “public spectacle” seems immaterial. (Think about that–unless we sold tickets and donated the funds, maybe toward that utility tap fee for the church? There’s a positive actual solution in the making, rather than a private gesture in naming! ;D)

    I don’t think it (the naming) was done well from its inception, and I don’t think doing it for the sake of doing it is a better reason than simply acknowledging the obvious, or as one business put it down here, “why have we “fixed” something that wasn’t broken?”

    But we can certainly agree to disagree on aspects of that! (As some no doubt will)

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