This is part one of a three part series on the rise of women of color in the Virginia state legislature.
2019 has been a weird year here in Virginia. As a relative newcomer to Virginia politics, let’s just say that I had quite the crash course this year on the lay of the land. As a millennial woman of color, it didn’t surprise me that the old white men are in charge. Same old, same old it appeared to be at first glance. But I had a lot to learn.
This past legislative session was soul crushing (in more ways than one) because we didn’t pass any of the progressive legislation such as paid family leave, a $15 minimum wage, or cash bail reform to name a few. It’s a shame too because we worked so hard to draft, sponsor, and advocate for these bills. I’m a lifelong progressive, so this was very demoralizing. We all want things to be better in this state and our results were not matching our efforts. But, I kept hearing something.
I kept hearing about the fire women of color that are elected here in Virginia. When days were dark, tuning into a few floor speeches from some of these phenomenal women let me know that Virginia has a glimmer of hope. And then guess what? Then the primaries happened and blessed us with a few more! #Blessed
Here is a list of the all of the fire progressive women of color that I stan this election. These are in no order, because truth be told, I heart them all. Research their platforms, fall in love, and then pledge to vote here. I promise you’ll thank me later.
- Jennifer Carroll Foy (House District 2)
Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy won her first primary in 2017 while pregnant with twins and she won by 14 votes. Let that sink in. When everyone told her not to run she did it anyway. Sound familiar? As a black woman, I’ve heard this throughout my life more times than I can count. I identify with her so much that when I had the chance to introduce myself I was too starstruck to do so and that NEVER happens to me. She is tough, dedicated, and a fighter. There are too many reasons to list why I stan her so I’ll stop there 🙂
2. Darlene Lewis (House District 8)
Right off the bat, you can tell that Darlene Lewis lets her good works speak for her. She walks the righteous path as a minister. Not only that, but she co-founded a non profit to feed people in need and provide after school services. Talk about walking it like you talk it. Women like Darlene have seen Virginia transition, and know the struggles of that transition all too well. This is the type of old school wisdom we need in the legislature.
3. Kelly Convirs-Fowler (House District 21)
All the women on this list are groundbreakers and Kelly Convirs- Fowler is no exception. Convirs-Fowler is the first Asian-American woman to be elected to the House of Delegates (along with Kathy Tran) Not to mention her record of being outspoken for women’s rights. Swoon!
4. Elizabeth Guzman (House District 31)
In Elizabeth Guzman, we have another super dope ceiling cracker. As the first immigrant Latinx woman to join the house, she embodies how Virginia is a place for all of us. Interestingly, she worked as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) with the court system, even while being a single mom with two additional jobs. I’ve personally worked in this system and know the emotional toll it takes to fight for children when it seems like the whole world is against them. A mother of two who uses her spare time to stand up for other children? Not all heroes wear capes!
5. Kathy Tran (House District 42)
So, let’s start with the fact that after coming here as a refugee, Kathy Tran was one of the first Asian-American woman to be elected to the House of Delegates (along with Kelly Convirs Fowler). Second, our girl took one on the chin this year when conservatives railed against her repro bill. Did she cower in the corner? Psssshhh, no! She handled the whole ordeal with grace and poise. And guess what? She is still living her best life and fighting for reproductive rights.
6. Charniele Herring (House District 46)
Ok, now allow me to gush about Charniele Herring. The woman began her political career at 13 years old. Let that sink in. 13! Not to mention the fact that she was the first African-American party chair in Virginia and the first African-American woman to represent Northern Virginia (Alexandria) … sis has some serious heat! She sits on the House Science and Technology Committee where I hope they are researching a way to bring more Delegates like her into our lives. If y’all don’t keep this woman in office it’ll be the biggest mistake of your life.
Stay tuned next month for part two of this blog. In the meantime, check out more from Progress Virginia:
- What’s Next In The Fight For Women’s Equality in Virginia?
- TRAPped in a Commonwealth That Controls My Body