Labor Day is about thanking unions and all the workers who organized and came together to advocate for themselves because they knew they deserved to be treated with respect and dignity. In doing so, organized labor achieved reforms that have helped all Americans.
As you know, Virginia Republicans have consistently voted to do nothing to reduce gun violence.
That's why every single Republican in the Virginia legislature voted to adjourn the July 9 Special Session.
That's why they killed every single one of the dozens of pending bills on gun safety until after Virginia has new elections.
In a fig leaf effort to pretend they care -- or as one of their members said, to "neutralize the conversation" and "make it go away" --
Republicans set up a Commission and ordered it not to make any recommendation to stop gun violence until after Virginians go to the polls on November 5.
And, in order to pretend it was a legitimate legislative hearing rather than a farce, they gave bill proponents 3 minutes (just 180 seconds!) to present our detailed proposals.
I used my 3 minutes to point out the hearing was a sham. But I only got about a minute or two, because they interrupted me several times.
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.