See below for video and a transcript of the superb Linda Perriello’s speech at last Saturday’s Women’s March in Roanoke. For all the other videos – of great activists like Danielle Belton of The Root, healthcare activist Rebecca Wood, youth activist Tallulah Costa and anti-violence activist Christine Ristaino – from the Roanoke Women’s March 2018, click here.
Hello Roanoke what a difference a year makes. When you stood shoulder-to-shoulder a year ago, when you were lifting one another up, when you’re making your voices heard, when you were ready to fight for change, there were a lot of people who said do you think they’re really gonna last, I mean do you think they’ll come back, do you think they’ll make a difference? Well, let me tell you something, the jury is in and the answer is yes you did, in a very powerful way.
You organized into groups like Roanoke Indivisible – I bet there’s some Roanoke Indivisible people here – and you spun off Strong Women Strong America, Together We Will. You joined Bold Alliance and protested those pipelines. You worked for the NAACP for racial justice. Your organizers formed Brava and here we are back today to celebrate a one-year anniversary.
But don’t forget — week after week, month after month, you never never backed away from making a difference and making that a priority and making people stand up for what they said. Astonishingly, along with thousands of other women, you did something I didn’t think was possible — you changed the political landscape in Virginia. Did you show up? You bet you showed up. You became candidates. You ran for office. You stood for something.
Compared to the years I’ve watched Virginia politics, where you usually change one or two seats, we changed seventeen seats and almost doubled the number of women in the House of Delegates in the state of Virginia. And you know what the best part of this is? I believe you’re just getting started.
And that’s why I’m here today for one Virginia 2021 because we need your help. Virginia 2021 is fighting for fair redistricting and having an end to gerrymandering. Now gerrymandering is a little hard to explain, it’s not very sexy or exciting; I mean it’s pretty geeky to redraw district lines. But you know who’s paying attention? The politicians are paying attention. And they’re going street by street, block by block, and they are picking their voters. Well, the people of Virginia are tired of having the politicians pick their voters; they think it’s time for the voters to pick their representatives.
Here in Roanoke, you are lucky because you have two of the real statewide champions for redistricting reform — Sam Rasoul in the House and John Edwards in the Senate. And both of them are fighting and supporting one Virginia 2021 in this movement. So what do we want? When the lines are drawn after the 2020 census, we would like to see the
politicians out of the business of drawing district lines and turn that job over to an independent commission. We would like to outlaw political gerrymandering forever. Aand to do that we have to change the constitution of the state of Virginia and that’s a heavy
lift. We’ve got 70,000 supporters now we’re gaining them by hundreds every day and
we need you…the legislature is in session and we need to know where our representatives stand on this issue. Do you know I’ve been working on this for five years and we have never been able to get a vote than the House of Delegates because they kill it in committee every year. It is time for that to stop — make them vote.
So what can you do; what is my ask for you today? First and foremost, if you got a cell phone or a piece of paper take it out and go to one Virginia 2021.org…our website
will come up and press the button that says sign the petition. We’ll take it from there, we’ll let you know when we have an alert that we need you to follow, whether it’s information we need you to know, but please go to that website and join the fight.
There’s another more specific ask. I told you about your two great local Senator and House of Delegates member. But there’s another one; his name is Delegate Greg Habeeb, and many of you are in his district. He has been assigned to this important Privileges and Elections Committee that is going to decide whether these bills get to the floor or not. You need to call him – (804) 698-1008….This is important; he needs to hear from constituents that we want that bill to make it to the floor and get a vote.
So today, we’re celebrating a year of change, a year of real progress, a year where your voices really made a difference. And seeing so many people here today leads me to believe for sure that Roanoke is on the move; it’s not looking back, it’s going forward. Roanoke, we can no longer be silent on the issue of gerrymandering and redistricting reform. Your voices were heard last year, you made a difference. We need that voice with One Virginia 2021. You can do it and we need you. Join the fight, please join us for the next couple of years, make those phone calls, and thank you for letting me to speak to you today.