At the same meeting at which the Board of Supervisors celebrated Black History Month, County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) said she would not be hosting the Ku Klux Klan on the county’s dais.
Loudoun NAACP President Phillip Thompson told supervisors last night that KKK flyers appearing in driveways around Leesburg and Purcellville was disturbing, “but equally disturbing was the silence from this board.”
“The Klan is serious,” Thompson said. “They are dangerous people. They have killed more African-Americans than ISIS or any other terrorist group you can come up with. We take the Klan seriously. Klan is ISIS to African-Americans. We know what they do, we know what they’ve done, but still this board is silent.”
He asked the board to issue a statement condemning the KKK.
“They’ll be back, and when they come back, we’re going to fill this chamber, and we’re going to let you know it’s time for you to step up and say something instead of sitting there silently while this evil persists in our community,” Thompson said.
Supervisors individually and unanimously condemned the hate group. But the strongest rebuke to the request for an official proclamation came from Randall, who agreed the KKK is a terrorist organization and said “they are thugs, they are racists, and they are killers.” But she said “a proclamation against the Klan will not ever walk up on this dais while I am Chair.”
“They don’t get the dignity of being up here with the nine of us [supervisors],” Randall said. “They will never get the dignity of being on the dais with the nine of us, and anyone who doesn’t agree with that can very well vote me out of office when I run again.” She added “terrorists want attention—we don’t give them that.”
Instead, she turned attention to Black History Month, celebrated in February, and recognized with a resolution in the Board of Supervisors immediately prior to Thompson’s comments.
“If you try to go through a day without African-American inventions, you’d have a tough day,” Randall said, listing a variety of everyday conveniences and necessities invented by black men—such as the stop light, patented by Garrett Morgan in 1923; improved automatic gear shifting for automobiles, patented by Richard Spikes in 1932; and the beer tap, another Spikes invention.
“And that’s only the inventions of black men,” Randall said. “We haven’t even begun to touch on black women yet.”
Randall has authored the county’s Black History Month proclamation each year. This year marks the tenth year Loudoun has officially recognized Black History Month.
Randall, when she was elected in 2015, became the first black woman to chair a county board of supervisors in Virginia. She was joined in celebrating the resolution by representatives from the Loudoun School for the Gifted, the Waterford Foundation, the NAACP, and other local black elected officials, including Leesburg Town Council members Ron Campbell and Vanessa Maddox and fellow Supervisor Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling).
“We all look forward to the day when African American history is no longer needed because the history of African-Americans in this country is taught and celebrated right along with American history,” Randall said. “But until that day comes, I encourage all of you during this month to go out and learn something about African-Americans in Loudoun County and in the nation.”