Fairfax, Virginia—Progress Virginia is calling for Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City) to immediately apologize for the racist comments made on the John Fredericks Show yesterday. Senator Petersen said the atrocities committed during the Jim Crow era, segregation, and Massive Resistance were “bad decisions…but at least they had a school system, ok, at least they had a functioning school system.” The murder, subjugation, and dehumanization of Black Americans through the purposeful creation of a separate and unequal education system were not merely “bad decisions.” They were a direct result of institutional and structural racism that continue to actively harm Black people in our community today.
“Senator Petersen’s comments are well below the standard we expect from an elected official. He must apologize immediately and commit to doing the work to educate himself about racism in Virginia and in America,” Anna Scholl, Executive Director of Progress Virginia, said. “We deserve a Senator in the 34th district who will be able to check his privilege, be an ally in the fight to dismantle institutional and structural racism, and do the work to end white supremacy. Senator Petersen’s comments yesterday make us question if he is up to the task.”
Senator Petersen claimed that the education system during the Jim Crow era was better than what we are doing now due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
- During Massive Resistance, schools across the Commonwealth, including in Charlottesville, Norfolk, and Warren County temporarily closed. Prince Edward County schools closed entirely for 5 years to prevent white children from attending school with Black children.
Today, schools are still operating with a distance learning structure to ensure that children and their families are kept safe from Coronavirus and are unable to get or spread the disease which has now caused 53,211 illnesses, 5,445 hospitalizations, and 1,534 deaths in Virginia.