Virginia governor picks panel to remove discriminatory laws

Published: Sep. 4, 2019 at 11:00 AM EDT
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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has named nine people to a new commission designed to eliminate Jim Crow-era discriminatory language in state laws and regulations.

Northam announced Tuesday that he was appointing Norfolk Circuit Court Chief Judge Jerrauld Jones, former Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney Michael Herring, Chief Deputy Attorney General Cynthia Hudson and others to the commission.

The commission was inspired by

that eliminated an exemption in state law that said certain jobs traditionally held by African Americans, including ushers and doormen, didn't have to pay minimum wage.

Senate Bill 1079, sponsored by Sen. Lionell Spruill, D-Chesapeake, effectively repealed a law that allowed employers to pay less than minimum wage to “newsboys, shoe-shine boys, ushers, doormen, concession attendants and theater cashiers” — jobs to which many African-Americans were relegated decades ago.

“It’s clear that this law was put into place to keep African-American Virginians from advancing,” Spruill said. “Hardworking Virginians deserve wage protections, regardless of the job that they do. I am proud to champion this long overdue legislation and to witness its bipartisan passage in the General Assembly.”

The commission is set to have its first meeting next week and issue a report in November.

Northam pledged to focus on addressing Virginia's history of racial inequity after

nearly forced him from office in February.