Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy Speaks At Black Lives Matter Rally (With Recording)

A little over 100 people gathered at South County High School in Lorton yesterday to participate in a rally for the empowerment of black women. As speakers from a variety of walks of life spoke, it was powerful how many women told their personal story of having their value diminished by others based upon both their race and their gender. With that being said, it was also important to note how every single speaker mentioned there’s a path forward with making sure everybody has the opportunity to thrive.

One woman who spoke was Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, who was one of the first black women to attend VMI and is running to be the first black female governor in the entire country. During her speech, Jenn spoke about how the current movement isn’t just about justice, but demands accountability.

“We are not marching and we are not standing because we want justice,” Del. Carroll Foy said. “Justice is for Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and the countless other black and brown bodies who have been killed on our corners due to racial injustice to still be living and breathing.”

“So no, we are not asking for is justice. We will never get that,” she added. “But what we are asking for is accountability. Because in the Commonwealth of Virginia and across this country, we two criminal justice systems. One for brown, black, and other marginalized communities. And one that works well for everyone else.”

Jennifer says the need for accountability comes because there has been a there has been “a demonization and criminalization of black and brown skin” that’s resulted in people of color cannot “sleep in our own homes and jog in our own community” without being worried (a reference to two black Americans who have recently been murdered).

With all this in mind, Del. Carroll Foy focused in on how we must combine the grassroots action we’ve seen in communities all across the country with concrete legislation action to help make meaningful long term change.

“Now that there are peaceful protests with a purpose, which are good, we also need the policy to back that up,” Jennifer said. “To ensure that these type of tragedies don’t happen in Virginia or anywhere else. That’s why I protest by passing policy.”

Among the potential legislative actions she highlighted were civilian review boards, special prosecution teams to investigate any officer involved homicide, and a process that ensures transparency and accountability. She also mentioned relatively easier tasks like making it required that potential police officers disclose if they’re a member of a white supremacist organization (something that’s not required right now).

Listening to Del. Carroll Foy speak, the main thing I took away was we’re at a moment right now where many being are paying attention because we saw how police officers sat idly by as they watched one of their colleagues kill a black man over the course of eight minutes and forty-six seconds. While there is no way we can bring George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and far too many others back to live, we can honor their legacy by making sure their tragic deaths lead to long term positive change.

For those who are interested, here’s a recording of Jennifer Carroll Foy’s remarks.

Ralph Northam Doesn’t Support Repealing Right to Work Laws

NorthamWith Democrats taking control of both chambers of the General Assembly for the first time in a generation, there was a lot of hope they’d pass laws that would benefit workers. Not even a month after the election, however, Gov. Ralph Northam has come out in opposition to repealing Virginia’s right to work laws.

Right to work laws make it illegal for businesses to make joining a union a condition of employment. The measures are often implemented in order to curry favor with the corporate world as they’re designed to make labor unions week by making it harder for them to grow and reduces their leverage with employers.

Despite the pro-worker sounding name, studies have shown workers actually suffer in right to work states. Wages in right to work states are 3.2% lower than in their pro-union counterparts and this isn’t just for unionized workers. Even people in non-unionized workplaces usually receive higher pay and good benefits in pro-union states.

Fortunately, there are several members of the General Assembly who are standing up for workers and support repealing right to work. Lee Carter from Prince William County has introduced legislation to repeal right to work in the past and has said he’ll introduce it again for the upcoming bill. He even made it clear his efforts won’t be dependent on whether or not he can receive support from the governor’s mansion.

“Opposition doesn’t stop me from putting in good bills. And repealing right to work is a good bill,” Carter tweeted yesterday. “I’m gonna introduce it, and I’m gonna fight like hell to get it to the Governor’s desk. And if he vetoes it, he’ll be the one who has to own that.”

Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy, who also represents parts of Prince William County, has also publicly said she supports repealing right to work. Her reasoning was that Virginia needs to strike a balance between being good for business and good for workers. According to her, other states have proven there’s a way to do just that without having right to work on the books.

It’s also worth noting that labor unions are a core constituency group for the Democratic Party. Many of their members are active volunteers for Democrats and constantly show up at rallies and participate in voter engagement activities. Throughout the 2019 campaigns, for instance, SEIU and other unions had members all over Northern Virginia supporting candidates in their GOTV efforts in the lead up to Election Day. This was huge as local campaigns often don’t have the money to buy tons of TV air time and therefore have to rely on grassroots political activity that unions can help provide.

With that in mind, it seems rather odd for Northam to be expressing direct opposition to one of the labor community’s top priorities. He could have very easily used language that highlighted how the business community would benefit from loyal workers who have more job security, quality benefits, and higher pay, but he instead implied repealing right to work would be horrible for business (which simply isn’t the case).

This hasn’t been lost on folks in labor who were quick to express their disappointment in Northam’s remarks. They also highlighted how the same organizing power they used in the lead up to the election can also be used to help rally support for their legislative priorities.

“It was unions phonebanking and knocking doors to flip the house,” Stacey Shorter, a local leader in AFGE, said on Twitter after news broke of Northam’s statement.”We have the power we just need to use it. The power of the people is greater than the people in power.”

All that being said, Northam’s announcement shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise since he’s known as a corporate Democrat. During the 2017 gubernatorial primary, for instance, he told labor union representatives that he supported right to work laws, but never said whether he’d veto legislation that repealed it. His PAC also has a lot of corporate donors, which helps to illustrate his coziness with the corporate community.

It was therefore already known that the governor wouldn’t be leading the charge for repeal, but his choice of rhetoric is what has many of his allies disappointed. The language he used suggests he won’t simply let others work on repeal and might actually work against the efforts. This is cause for concern and is why many progressives were quick to express their opposition to Northam’s announcement.

Jennifer Carroll Foy Passionately Speaks About Need for ERA

Yesterday, I highlighted how Sen. Dick Black claimed Virginia shouldn’t ratify the Equal Rights Amendment because women aren’t strong enough mentally or physically to serve in the military. In stark contrast, Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy took to the House floor and spoke about her personal story of graduating from VMI despite males she went to high school with claiming she wouldn’t be able to succeed there.

Del. Carroll Foy had two male high school classmates who went to VMI with her, but she was the only one who actually graduated. In other words, the males couldn’t cut it even though they (and other males) claimed that women wouldn’t be able to be successful in the military world. Now I’m not saying the failed because they were male (VMI’s a VERY demanding school), it’s simply that women like Del. Carroll Foy deserve the same opportunity to take on tough challenges because they might be the ones who actually thrive.

Passing the ERA shows that we believe in equality and that discrimination has no place in the United States. The Virginia Senate (despite a few right wing opponents like Dick Black) showed it believes this to be true and passed the amendment with bipartisan support. The GOP leadership in the House of Delegates should listen to Del. Carroll Foy and their fellow Virginians and allow the measure to come to a vote on the House floor.

For those who are interested, here’s some video of Del. Carroll Foy’s speech.