The Loudoun NAACP won’t march again until three days before the Nov. 3 General Election. In its last organized demonstrations until then, its community leaders urged attendees in South Riding and Middleburg to prepare for that vote.
The Loudoun chapter of the NAACP held the march and rally afternoon in South Riding on Sunday following a national outcry for racial equity and police reform. Hundreds of gatherers marched from Prosperity Baptist Church, a half-mile down Braddock Road, to the Settle-Dean Cabin—a property Thomas Settle willed to Charles Dean, whom he formerly held in slavery, in 1886, and which the county dedicated as an official historic site in 2011.
That followed a gathering at Asbury Church in Middleburg on Saturday, where in 1864, a year before American slaves were freed, the church’s white congregation donated the church to the Black Methodist Episcopal congregation, making it the first Black church in Middleburg. It was used continually until 1994 when the congregation merged with the Willisville United Methodist Church.
On Sunday, back at Prosperity, Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10), County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large), Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj, Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-2) and Loudoun NAACP President Michelle Thomas addressed the crowd.
Randall told the hundreds of people standing on the Baptist church’s lawn they weren’t part of a moment, but a movement—noting that movements change things.
She told the crowd they weren’t gathered there just because George Floyd was killed last month, but because his death was the tipping point following the deaths of multiple other black individuals in past decades, like Emmett Till in 1955, Trayvon Martin in 2012 and Tamir Rice in 2014. Randall said everyone present at the rally knew that all lives matter, but said that people need to know that black lives are part of all lives.
Randall said she wasn’t in favor of defunding or disbanding the police, but instead in favor of police reform.
Biberaj asked rally attendees to look around and see the people standing next to them—people, she said, they were all accountable for.
“We are each other’s somebody,” she said. “We have to have that unity. … This is our time and our opportunity to voice up. If we let this opportunity pass us then we deserve what we don’t get.”
Foy, who recently announced that she would run for the office of Virginia governor in the 2021 election, told attendees that “black and brown bodies are being murdered on our streets due to racial injustice.” She said voting “is the only way to get that occupant out of the White House.”
Foy said that if voting works out in their favor this fall, police brutality will begin to come to an end and the criminal justice system will be reformed. She labeled voting as an “act of faith.”
“Vote because we demand change,” she said.
Wexton emphasized that voting doesn’t end at the ballot box in November, but that people need to attend Board of Supervisors and School Board meetings. “You need to make your feelings and opinions made,” she said.
Thomas said people need to let the School Board know about their experiences with racism in the school district during their meeting June 29; need to fill the county boardroom on July 7 to talk about the removal of the Confederate statue on the courthouse lawn; and need to be back in the boardroom on July 21 to address policing in Loudoun.
Thomas also invited everyone present to march with the NAACP on Oct. 31—at which time she said the organization would rally thousands of people to march to the Office of Elections in Leesburg to vote in the Nov. 3 General Election as a group.
“Vote like your life depend on it, because it does,” Thomas said.