RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia State Conference of the NAACP released their legislative agenda for the 2021 Virginia General Assembly session, which convenes on Jan. 13, urging legislators Friday to commit to several of their priorities.
Items highlighted throughout the virtual meeting were to establish a process that automatically expunges certain crimes from a person’s criminal record. As well as to declare “racism as a public health crisis.”
“I cannot stress enough about systematic racism as a public health crisis,” VSC NAACP Political Action Committee Chair Gaylene Kanoyton said. “Everything that we talk about — the environment, business, housing, our workforce and our minority business, all that affects our health as well as education.”
Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin have already declared racism as a public health crisis in response to the killing of George Floyd. Floyd was killed while in police custody after a Minneapolis officer was seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck as he cried out in distress.
Virginia House Democrats listed both of these issues as priorities when the caucus unveiled its agenda for the special session back in August of 2020. The organization said they want to bring these issues back to the forefront of conversations.
“We have inequities in all areas, and that is a top priority for us,” Kanoyton said.
Robert Barnette, the president of both the Virginia State Conference NAACP and the Hanover County NAACP, called on lawmakers to address police accountability, broadband connectivity issues and to ensure the expansion of Virginia’s public school system.
“We want to continue to protect and expand funding for Virginia’s public school system,” he said. “We don’t want to see school funding cut at all.”
Other items on the organization’s agenda — voting procedures. Officers said after seeing the huge turnout with early and absentee voting in November, the organization wants to extend it.
Currently, you can participate in absentee voting the two Saturdays preceding a General Election. The organization wants to extend that measure to voting the two Saturdays and Sundays leading up to a General Election.
Other topics discussed were environmental challenges faced in the black and brown communities like addressing food deserts, housing concerns and removing toxic facilities that creates a harmful environment for Virginians — particularly children.
“The national NAACP wrote a report, ‘Fumes Across the Fence-Line,’ that showed communities that are located within close proximity to toxic facilities, the school children experience approximately 101,000 sick days per year,” Karen Campblin, VSC NAACP’s Environmental Climate Justice Committee Chair, said. “We need to create healthier communities and get them on the path to sustainability.
Fore more information on their legislative priorities visit their website.