Representing Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax

Today is the 400th Anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans to Virginia's shores, an event that marks the beginning of almost 250 years of race-based slavery in North America, another century of Jim Crow Laws, and another half-century of uneven progress.

All these years later, we continue to fight to rid our institutions and society of the vestiges of this barbaric, peculiar system. We must always remember America’s Original Sin, so that we may wisely confront the continuing impacts of institutional racism today: in our criminal justice system, in our economy, and in our society.

As we study what happened 400 years ago in Virginia, think how the history of our country — and the history of our world — would have been different if only the Africans forcibly brought to our shores four centuries ago had been treated identically to the Europeans who came here only a dozen years earlier.

Imagine if the English — and later, the USA — had treated African-Americans, women and men, with the same promises of equality and liberty boldly proclaimed in our Declaration of Independence self-evidently endowed by their Creator.

Now imagine if we only did so today...



Here we go again.

You know about the recent, tragic massacres in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton.
And you probably know that many more Americans have been gunned down in the days since.
Just a few days ago, two people were killed while eating lunch in Newport News.

Most Americans responded to the tragedies with pain and disgust.
But they also responded with love, generosity, and a strengthened commitment to making America better.



If you read my newsletter sent to you that morning, I explained in some detail the great significance of that day and why I chose to attend the 400th Commemorative Ceremonial Session. I explained how the very restricted and problematic representative democracy of land-owning free Christian white Englishmen that began at Jamestown gradually improved over time to encompass an entire population in fifty states and become the foundation for the still-imperfect (but much better than 1619!) representative democracy that is today the United States of America.



Given my strong feelings that Donald Trump is not just a president I disagree with but the illegitimate embodiment of the greatest threat to American representative democracy in my lifetime, I cannot support him giving the keynote address at Jamestown today. Given my proud support for representative democracy, it is incumbent upon me -- as your representative, on its 400th anniversary here -- to protest Donald Trump's contempt for the United States of America and for all that makes us great as a nation, including our diverse population, our long history as a haven for immigrants, and our representative democracy, replete with freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and equality under the law.



Immigrants and refugees make America a better place and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. 

Every single day, the occupant of the White House makes clear he doesn't see things the same way. He's fine with the ones who are not black or brown (and has married some of them). But he sees black and brown immigrants and refugees as less than human, a way for him consolidate his power within his racist base. 

Last week, I spoke at a Lights for Liberty vigil in Market Square, Alexandria, where hundreds of Alexandrians came together to say, "Not in our name!" I used Biblical imagery, comparing those of us who welcome immigrants to the Sea of Galilee and those of us who shun immigrants to the Dead Sea.



My Democratic House colleagues and I, knowing House Republicans were unlikely to give any of our sensible gun-violence prevention proposals a fair hearing, used the standard "Morning Hour" - a time typically reserved for personal speeches and more ceremonial statements - to make the case for our legislative agenda. 

The Speaker, well aware that we were trying to do our jobs and actually prevent gun violence while his caucus was determined to do nothing and go home as soon as possible, insisted that no one speak longer than two minutes and that all of us speak no longer than hour.

Unfortunately, the short speeches we gave on the Floor in which we outlined our agenda would be the only opportunity we would have to discuss our bills. We didn't even get to mention all eight of them. That's because Republicans, just 90 minutes after the session began, voted to adjourn the session and ban any debate or discussion of gun bills until after Election Day (November 5, 2019).



It was over in a split second.

Virginia Republicans today voted to REJECT doing ANYTHING to try to stop gun violence.

They refused to even allow debate on the issue.

Read my full statement