March 24, 2011
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.