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Equity Programs Debate Leads to Fireworks in the House of Delegates

Legislators were in Richmond Monday to make a final decision on $3 billion of federal relief money. But, a debate over equity programs in public schools produced the bigger fireworks.

After the murder of George Floyd last year, schools across Virginia started putting together equity programs and cultural competency training. That’s an approach that’s often manipulative and divisive, says Delegate Glenn Davis of Virginia Beach. Speaking on the floor of the House of Delegates Monday, Davis said this...

"The concept that one is racist based solely on the color of their skin is inherently the definition of racism," he said. "What happened to aspiring to Dr. King's dream of not being judged by the color of one's skin but rather by the content of one's character?"

Quoting Martin Luther King on the floor of the House prompted Delegate Don Scott of Portsmouth to recall a recent quote from King’s daughter, Bernice.

"She must have knew that folks would get up and use her father's words again to try to deny equity to the very people he spent his life helping," Scott said. "She said using my father's color-of-skin, content-of-character quote to prevent teaching on racism and on comprehensive history reflects intentional distortion of his authentic dream."

The debate was over a resolution commending the Virginia Beach School Board for an equity policy to promote diversity and inclusion.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.