Gov. Ralph Northam | Valley

Gov. Ralph Northam (D)

Black leaders in northern Virginia found out that Gov. Ralph S. Northam (D) was going to hold what his office termed as a “community roundtable” in Prince William County last week as part of an “honest dialogue around confronting systemic issues of race and equity that persist to this day.”

We heard that this meeting was an “invitation only” affair and that several of his most vocal critics in the black community in northern Virginia had not been invited. We learned later that some critics subsequently were invited.

We understand that the governor has held several similar roundtables in other parts of the commonwealth, although no reports on the results of those discussions have been made available. What we do know is that these meetings were not publicly announced, were closed to the general public and no results of the questions asked, answers provided and pledges made have been reported in any detail.

We are all very aware of what Gov. Northam is trying to accomplish with this effort. Unfortunately, holding closed-door meetings will not accomplish what he seeks. Gov. Northam still has serious questions to answer. Republicans in this state will continue to remind him of this fact. His answers cannot be provided behind closed doors in controlled environments. He must answer these questions in front of the public, where the sincerity of his apologies and tenor of his explanations can be properly judged.

Gov. Northam also needs to face some of his toughest critics, especially those who campaigned, supported and ultimately voted for him. He owes them that much. He also needs to face the Virginia State Conference NAACP, which has not backed off its call for his resignation. He owes the organization that much respect.

Behind closed doors in controlled environments is not engagement; it’s a whitewash.


Phillip E. Thompson is a current member and past president of the Loudoun County Branch of the NAACP. This letter originally appeared in the Richmond Free Press.

(3) comments


A “community roundtable” or workshop is usually a closed door. If it just said roundtable would that have been better? I think the author was confused thinking that because it said community that it was open to the community. A Roundtable definition is - a conference for discussion or deliberation by several participants; also : the participants in such a conference.the subject of the meeting was the community.


Phillip, (Happy birthday by the way). When someone refuses to admit over decades he didn't have any problem with what was published in his yearbook (regardless if he was in the picture or not) why isn't 100% of his party appalled? Partisanship should not cloud basic values which he obviously is lacking but he and others have definitely damaged the Virginia democratic party.


Why isn't 100% of his party appalled? Because there is doubt and it has not been proven. Why are republicans not appalled with trumps racism, or the fact that children and babies are being kidnapped under his policies which is causing some of them to die? Really which is worse?

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