Bill establishes Virginia African-American Advisory Board

Del. Lamont Bagby, D-Henrico. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

From The Bulletin, the Mercury’s blog, where we post quick hits on the news of the day, odds and ends and commentary.

Gov. Ralph Northam has signed legislation creating a 21-member African-American advisory board aimed at building a “more accessible, inclusive and equitable commonwealth.”

The bill, sponsored by Del. Lamont Bagby, a Henrico Democrat and chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, creates a body that must number at least 15 African-American members and will include the secretaries of the commonwealth, commerce and trade, education, health and human resources and public safety and homeland security as ex-officio members.

They will advise the governor on “developing economic, professional, cultural, educational and governmental links between state government and the African-American community,” the governor’s office said in a statement.

“The creation of this board is far overdue,” Bagby said. “Establishing the Virginia African-American Advisory Board ensures that the African-American community has a permanent voice in the commonwealth’s executive branch, and I thank my colleagues in the General Assembly for putting their full support behind this important body.”

The board’s creation comes as Northam is still trying to dig himself out from under the blackface revelations that have consumed his administration. Northam’s attempt at a reconciliation tour has been met with mixed results. He backed out of an initial stop at Virginia Union University after students asked him not to attend. This week, he met with black leaders in Danville.

“The last few weeks, the events that we have witnessed in the commonwealth of Virginia and this country have been very hurtful,” Northam told them. “And I regret that.”