For three days this week, Rev. Jesse Jackson, members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus and local political leaders, held a series of rallies and forums throughout Virginia to spur voter registration and turnout for the state’s General Election on November 8.
Called “The 2017 Rebuilding and Healing Virginia Bus Tour,” Jackson, in a phone interview while motoring through western Virginia, told the GUIDE the tour is also designed to counter the negative impact of the rise of the Trump Administration and its ardent support among White Supremacists.
“Consider what happened in Charlottesville a month ago and the rise of White Supremacy in Virginia,” said Jackson, the founder of the Rainbow-Push Coalition. “We are going to be pushing for voter registration and turnout across Virginia. This is a very critical election.”
Jackson’s tour comes just weeks before the November 7 General Election when Virginia and New Jersey are the only two states with scheduled gubernatorial elections this fall.
In Virginia Democrats Ralph Northam, Justin Fairfax and Mark Herring are running for Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General respectively. Fairfax cis hoping to become the state’s second African-American Lt. Governor. L. Douglas Wilder was the first, before he was elected governor in 1993.
Northam, who is the state’s current Lt. Governor, is running against the Republican ticket headed by GOP lobbyist and former Senate candidate Ed Gillespie and Libertarian Clifford D. Hyra Fairfax is facing Republican Jill H. Vogel and Herring is facing Republican John D. Adams.
On Monday, September 18, Jackson was at the High Street Baptist Church in Roanoke, and the Bast Center in Salem. in Lynchburg, he appeared at Virginia University of Lynchburg, Randolph College and Court Street Baptist Church.
On Tuesday he was in Hopewell, Greenville, Emporia, and Franklin before staging a rally in Norfolk at Norfolk State University that evening.
On Wednesday he was in the Newport News and Hampton on the Peninsula and then ob to Northern Virginia where he spoke in Dumfries and Arlington.
During the events scheduled at colleges, Jackson drove home the message to students and local leaders that students are potential victims of voter suppression and “voter nullification.”
Jackson said students have been denied the right to vote because they are not native-born residents of the cities where they are attending school.
Jackson said students should be able to vote “where they receive their mail” and not be denied voting privileges in the their communities.
Jackson and other Black political leaders are keeping a worried eye on The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which he and other activists say is searching for voter fraud and illegality which does not exist.
The 2017 election will hopefully build “momentum” for the 2018 mid-term elections where the Democrats will be working to regain control of the U.S. House and the Senate, Jackson said.
He said the Trump’s administration’s missteps and his support from White Supremacists should be “ an incentive” to spur voter turnout for the November 2018 mid-term election.
Jackson said he is also concerned about the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) stepping away from the protecting the civil and voting rights for women and minorities. He said he is particularly disturbed by the incidences involving African-Americans who are being killed by White police officers about the country without any prosecutorial consequences.
Jackson said he would not be going to St. Louis, where there protests are being held by people furious over a judge’s decision to acquit former Police Officer Jason Stockley of murder in the 2011 death of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith.
The officer was also accused of planting a gun in Smith’s car following a high speed chase.
St. Louis shopkeepers have boarded up their broken windows from earlier disorder following the decision.
Protestors later returned to march through the West County Center Mall chanting “Black Lives Matter!” and “No Justice, No Profits!”
By Leonard E. Colvin