In this week’s newsletter, I reflect on an event with Special Guest Mr. Khizr Khan, reflect on the history of the Stonewall Riots as a part of LGBTQ+ Month, provide an update on voting opportunities, and discuss community engagements from this past week. Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter and for staying informed.
Virginia’s Immigrant Story
This past Sunday, we held a very special celebration in honor of Virginia’s Immigrant Story. I was so honored to be joined by Mr. Khizr Khan, Gold Star Father and recently-named Commissioner to the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom. Throughout the afternoon, we heard the stories of immigrants to the Commonwealth: personal stories that highlighted the challenges, the triumphs, and the meaningful experiences that helped our New Americans establish their home in Virginia.
The diversity of cultures, languages, cuisines, and experiences of arrival enrich who and what we are as Virginians. We were able to celebrate the unique diversities that strengthen this nation, its promises of democracy, and that add to the talents, skills, and determined hard work that contribute to this country’s growth.
Mr. Khan’s own story of immigration and an American family’s most profound sacrifice are detailed in his book An American Family.
Khizr and Ghazala Khan lost their son, Captain Humayun Khan, who was tragically killed June 8, 2004, after a vehicle packed with explosives drove to the gate of his compound while he was inspecting soldiers on guard duty near Baqubah, Iraq. A graduate of the University of Virginia, Capt. Khan exemplifies the ideals of leadership and courage; he stepped forward at the same time that he told the men and women under his command to step back so that he could protect their lives. As a Gold Star family, the Khans have transformed their personal grief into outward, public action, as they continue to share their devotion to our country with UVA ROTC cadets and with all Americans.
Joint Commission on Technology and Science (JCOTS)
This past Tuesday, the Joint Commission on Technology and Science (JCOTS) held its regular meeting. Our focus was on data privacy and a report from the Virginia Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (VASEM) on “Key Strategies to Position Virginia for Leadership in Areas of Critical National Challenge.” As a member of the Commission, one of my key concerns is Virginia’s ability to meet the workforce needs of new and increasingly complex technology industries. Using data and anticipated areas of industry growth, we will need to align our education institutions, curricular programs, and degree options to meet the kinds and numbers of jobs emerging in the areas of technology, science, and engineering. Of course, development of strong curricular programs in higher education institutions means, also, that we necessarily need to focus on quality academic programs in public schools, ensuring that all of our students are best prepared to position Virginia as a national leader.
LGBTQ+ History Month: The Significance of the Stonewall Riots
On June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Riots, also known as the Stonewall Uprising or Stonewall, began within the walls of the Stonewall Inn and the surrounding streets of the Greenwich Village bar in New York City. The riots were a response to targeted police raids, harassment, and the arrests of LGBTQ+ bar patrons. Community members banded together to take a stand against oppression, injustice, and bigotry. Although Stonewall was not the beginning of the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement, it became a catalyst for the formation of LGBTQ+ organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD, as well as LGBTQ+ advocacy efforts across the nation.
In 2016, Stonewall Inn, Christopher Park, and the surrounding streets and sidewalks were recognized as a national monument by President Barack Obama, acknowledging the area’s contribution to the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. While visiting New York in 2019, I made a point to stop by Stonewall, close to the 50th anniversary of the riots, to acknowledge the progress we have made to secure equality for LGBTQ+ community in the continued fight against discrimination and bigotry.
To read more about the history of the Stonewall Inn, visit the NYC LGBT History Sites Project website.
Updates - Voting is Underway
Although Election Day is November 8, Virginians can vote now. The number of in-person voting will be expanding in the Tenth Senatorial District on Monday, October 24, with the addition of five locations in Chesterfield County. Here are all of the voting locations across the District:
Chesterfield County General Registrar’s Office (9848 Lori Road)
Clover Hill Library (6701 Deer Run Drive)
Ettrick-Matoaca Library (4501 River Road)
LaPrade Library (9000 Hull Street Road)
Meadowdale Library (4301 Meadowdale Boulevard)
North Courthouse Road Library (325 Courthouse Road)
Powhatan County Office of Elections (3910 Old Buckingham Road, Suite E)
City of Richmond:
Office of the General Registrar (2134 West Laburnum Avenue)
City Hall (900 East Broad Street)
Hickory Hill Community Center (3000 East Belt Boulevard)
In addition to voting in-person, constituents are also able to request an absentee ballot via mail. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is 5:00pm on Friday, October 28. To check voter registration status, request an absentee ballot to vote by mail, and learn more information about upcoming elections, visit Virginia Department of Elections.
Last Thursday, I attended the White House-hosted the “Accelerating Infrastructure” Virtual Summit to hear from administration officials, elected officials, and various other leaders about the benefits of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act. This $1.2 trillion relief package, signed into law by President Biden in November 2021, represents the largest investment in our country’s infrastructure and has contributed to much-needed improvements in broadband access, the expansion of public transportation, and the transition to clean, renewable energy.
On Friday, I joined members of City of Richmond government, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Virginia, and Wells Fargo Bank Foundation at the launch of a new Wealth Opportunity Restored Through Homeownership (WORTH) Initiative aimed at increasing home ownership among communities that have been historically disenfranchised from ownership. In Richmond and across America, minority communities have faced systemic inequities within the housing industry. Grants such as this one begin to rectify these injustices and create opportunities for all people in our communities.
On Saturday, I was privileged to attend the Library of Virginia Literary Awards celebration. This annual event gives us an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the best of literary art in Virginia. This year’s finalists in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction represent the best of Virginia’s writers. Especially powerful as a part of the evening’s celebration was the keynote speaker, James Beard award-winning author and culinary historian Michael W. Twitty. Mr. Twitty spoke to the power of storytelling and its interconnections throughout all aspects of our culture and lives.
Mount Zion Baptist Church in Powhatan County was established in 1872 during the Reconstruction Era following the Civil War. This past Sunday, I and my Legislative Aide joined the congregation for Homecoming Weekend as the Church celebrated its 150-year anniversary. I was honored to present the commending resolution honoring the important legacy and presence of Mt. Zion Baptist Church.
Reverend Jeanne Pupke was a beloved spiritual leader and a devoted advocate for marginalized communities across the Commonwealth. Following my visit to Mt. Zion Baptist Church on Sunday, I then joined Reverend Sherman Logan, Acting Senior Minister, Reverend Susan Frederick-Gray, President of the Unitarian Universalist Association, and the congregation of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond to present the Senate Joint Resolution celebrating Reverend Pupke’s life.
On Monday evening, I was delighted to speak with students at George Mason University to address the issue of “The Politics of Education.” I appreciated the depth of questions and insights shared by the students during this class discussion.
On Tuesday evening, I and my Chief of Staff met with students in Dr. Mary Finley-Brook’s class at the University of Richmond to discuss policy ideas for the 2023 General Assembly session. Students presented policy ideas and information on housing insecurity, combating gentrification, solar energy projects, broadband infrastructure, nuclear energy, and youth representation in government. These students have delved deeply into remarkable research that will be valuable as we develop legislation
Virginia is incredibly fortunate to have a museum as internationally renowned as the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and I am honored to represent the VMFA in the General Assembly. On Tuesday, I was delighted to join VMFA supporters and other community members in celebrating the addition of our new Curator of African Art: Dr. Ndubuisi C. Ezeluomba.
On Wednesday, my Legislative Assistant attended the groundbreaking for Ettrick Landing, a ten-unit affordable single-family subdivision that is being constructed on the site of the former Ettrick Elementary School Annex in Chesterfield County. This collaboration between Chesterfield County government and the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust is an incredible effort to create affordable housing for Chesterfield’s families.
On Wednesday afternoon, my staff and I had the opportunity to tour Richmond Hill and learn about one of its current efforts, The Judy Project, named for a woman enslaved at the Adams-Taylor House located on the property. Together, we reflected in spaces of prayer, visited the Dwelling of the Enslaved, heard the oral history of grounds, including when Union soldiers marched down Main Street to mark the end of the Civil War, and witnessed active excavation on the property. The collaboration between community members, faith leaders, archaeologists, and historians to tell the full story of this sacred space is an inspiring thing to witness.
Later on Wednesday evening, I joined community members at the Virginia Holocaust Museum’s Annual Meeting to hear updates on current museum projects and objectives, as well as hear from Dr. Alec Hosterman of Longwood University. Dr. Hosterman provided a powerful keynote address, and his photography will be on display at the museum in an exhibit titled There’s Just Us, documenting the Unite the Right rally that took place in Charlottesville, displaying the worst of humanity’s bigotry while also highlighting the power of unity against hate.
Connecting With My Office
My staff continue to hold meetings with constituents via Zoom or by phone. You can sign up for a meeting with either of my staff members with our easy scheduling app:
Charles Turner - Legislative Assistant
You can also email us at email@example.com. If you were forwarded this email, you can sign up to receive my office’s weekly newsletter here.
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