Home National Politics Video: Ferguson Reid, First African-American elected to VA Gen. Assembly Since Reconstruction,...

Video: Ferguson Reid, First African-American elected to VA Gen. Assembly Since Reconstruction, Interviewed by Thom Hartmann


If you’ve never met him or spoken with him, you’ve definitely missed out. Dr. William Ferguson “Fergie” Reid, for those of you who aren’t familiar, “is a Virginia physician and civil rights activist” who, in 1968, “was the first African-American elected to the Virginia Assembly since the days of Reconstruction.” Today, his 90 for 90 campaign, in honor of Dr. Reid’s 90th birthday, aims at encouraging broader voter participation. Here, Dr. Reid strongly urges Democrats to take on Republicans everywhere (including “in Republican districts”), but says the “old-line politicians” are “more interested in maintaining the status quo” than “building the party.” I agree with this to a point, but I don’t believe that Democrats should expend large amounts of money on overwhelmingly Republican districts. Instead, I’d advocate for grassroots/netroots campaigns, including a heavy emphasis on door knocking, “tabling,” letters to the editor, social media posting (and sharing), etc. So, sure, let’s run Democrats everywhere, but let’s be smart and strategic about it since we don’t have unlimited financial resources…

  • Tracy B Ann

    I just thought I’d point out that Dr. Reid never really says anything about spending money. He talks about going precinct to precinct. That’s not spending large amounts of money; it’s each precinct raising $50 from bake sales and car washes for yard signs or flyers.

    I personally think the Democratic Party should spend large amounts of money in Republican districts as well as going door to door and using social media. Instead they back the candidates with money who are most likely to win.

    I would argue those guys don’t need help. The “orphan candidates” as Dr. Reid calls them, are the ones who need the Party’s support.

    Here is the analogy I always see in my head… a ship is sinking and passengers are in the water. The Democratic Party (along with Emily’s List and a few others) sends out a rescue ship, but they only rescue the folks who are swimming, and are almost to the shore, they abandon the ones who are treading water.

    If the Democratic Party left the candidates who are a safe bet to fend for themselves and used their resources to help the “orphan candidates” (Dr. Reid is much nicer than I am, I call them sacrificial lambs), then I do believe we’d have a Democratic House.

    The other thing the Democratic Party does is dismantle the apparatus after each election. They’ve been doing that since back in Dr. Reid’s day. The Republicans copied the Democratic playbook (40 years or more ago) and have kept using it; election after election. That’s why they own all the media and have all the money.

    Dr. Reid says “every election is a dress rehearsal for the next election.” Thats why you run a Democrat in every district and give them the full backing of the party.

    That’s how you win elections. Dr. Reid is the living proof.

    • Sure, so now all we need is for Dems to step up in each and every district and run!

      • Tracy B Ann

        Exactly. That’s one of my personal missions. I have an odd idea that it’s unconstitutional not to be represented or at least have a choice of representation.

        Not that hard to get someone to step up either. There are local party people who are willing to step up, and then professionals in the community for whom just having their name on the ballot is good advertising.

        Depends on where you live I suppose. Here in TN all you need to do to get on any ballot is to get 250 signatures. So, I get especially angry when a repub runs unopposed.

  • Tracy B Ann

    Oh hey, and great site! I’ve been hearing about it but joined just to comment on this piece.
    Blue Virginia is now bookmarked as a favorite for me.