On Thursday, 2017 Republican gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie participated in the Virginia Union University Forum where he discussed his policies for promoting safe neighborhoods, good schools, and economic opportunity in minority communities. A video and transcript of Gillespie’s opening statement is provided below.
Watch Video HERE
Well thank you very much and thank you Virginia Union University for having us here tonight and to the leaders of the NAACP for hosting this forum tonight. I’m sorry we weren’t able to have the joint appearance originally planned, but I’m very glad to be here to share my thoughts with you about the challenges we face in our commonwealth and my detailed policy solutions to those, especially as they impact minority communities.
The desire for our children to live in safe neighborhoods, go to good schools, and have economic opportunity is universal, transcendent of race and ethnicity, but I know that the ability to fulfill those desires is not universal. And so my policies are not only designed to create jobs, raise take home pay, help people lift themselves out of poverty and improve our schools to the benefit of all Virginians, they also address specific challenges that are more pronounced in minority communities.
Before I even declared my candidacy for governor of the Commonwealth, when I was planning to run for governor, one of the first things I did was to ask about a dozen African American leaders to join Cathy and me for a weekend of discussions at Holly Knoll, also known as Cappahosic, the cradle of the civil rights movement in Virginia. Leaders in business, education, the faith community, law enforcement and others made time for us there, and I came away from that weekend in July of 2016 with a commitment to taking my campaign to all Virginians because I want to be a governor for all Virginians. There is nowhere in our commonwealth I will not go, because there is no one in our commonwealth I will not serve.
Since then, in the Richmond area alone, I’ve been in Mosby Court to meet with minority business contractors to meet with them about their concerns, visited Fairfield Court and Essex Village to discuss public housing and other issues, met with the Southside Community Development and Housing Authority to talk about affordable housing, went to George Mason Elementary School to learn about the communities and schools program, served meals with Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church to honor Martin Luther King Day after being here that morning for the community leaders breakfast.
I’ve met with successful African American entrepreneurs, creating opportunities, innovative, dedicated educators helping children learn, recovery specialists helping addicts conquer their addiction, and young professionals who will be the future leaders of our entire Commonwealth and presidents of our HBCUs. The very first event I did after winning my party’s nomination, the very next morning I kicked off my general election campaign right here at Virginia Union, and I am glad to be back here tonight to talk about how as governor I will tear down barriers and break vicious cycles that too often hinder opportunities and advancement for minorities, and disproportionately African Americans. Certain barrier crimes, barriers to marketplace entry and barriers to a quality education, vicious cycles that trap people in poverty or the criminal justice system.
I’ve been encouraged by so many conversations I’ve had and inspired by so many leaders I’ve met, but Virginia data are clear – young black males are significantly more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than young white males. African Americans are twice as likely to be unemployed in the population as a whole. The math proficiency rate for black children in the fourth grade is less half that of white children, and 8th graders’ proficiency in reading is about a third of white students.
These are real numbers, and these are real lives. We need to address these challenges, and we need to do it now, and I look forward to our conversation this evening about how best to do that, and how my policies will do it. Thank you for letting me be with you.
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