The Bulletin

Bill establishes Virginia African-American Advisory Board

By: - March 22, 2019 3:46 pm

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.”


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Robert Zullo
Robert Zullo

Robert spent 13 years as a reporter and editor at weekly and daily newspapers before becoming editor of the Virginia Mercury in 2018. He was a staff writer and managing editor at Worrall Community Newspapers in Union, N.J., before spending five years in south Louisiana covering hurricanes, oil spills and Good Friday crawfish boils as a reporter and city editor for the The Courier and the Daily Comet newspapers in Houma and Thibodaux. He covered Richmond city hall for the Richmond Times-Dispatch from 2012 to 2013 and worked as a general assignment and city hall reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from 2013 to 2016. He returned to Richmond in 2016 to cover energy, environment and transportation for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He grew up in Miami, Fla., and central New Jersey. A former waiter, armored car guard and appliance deliveryman, he is a graduate of the College of William and Mary. Contact him at [email protected]