Back in May 1974, “influential music critic Jon Landau saw “25-year-old Bruce Springsteen played at the Harvard Square Theater in Cambridge” and wrote the now-immortal words, “I saw my rock and roll past flash before my eyes. I saw something else: I saw rock and roll’s future and its name is Bruce Springsteen.”
Well, tonight, I feel like I saw an alternative, much brighter political future for Virginia flash before my eyes, and her name is Sheila Bynum-Coleman.
What the heck am I talking about? For starters, let’s just say that if you don’t know who Sheila Bynum-Coleman is, you really need to get to know her – fast. First of all, she’s incredibly impressive, as you’ll see in the following video from a jam-packed event for her tonight in Arlington. Second, she’s got a serious shot at unseating the powerful, hard-right Republican Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, Kirk Cox, in 59 days. And if (when?) she does *that*, let’s just say that a LOT more people are going to know her name! Finally, I’d point out that HD66, which Cox currently MISrepresents, is no longer the racially gerrymandered monstrosity it used to be, but is now a district that Tim Kaine won by 14 points and Ralph Northam by 5 points. So yeah, it’s definitely winnable…with a strong Democratic candidate, of course.
Fortunately, Democrats *do* have a strong candidate – personable, smart, passionate, experienced, compassionate, you name it – in Sheila Bynum-Coleman. Check out the following videos, first of Arlington County Board member Matt de Ferranti’s intro, followed by Bynum-Coleman’s crowd-inspiring speech, plus some highlights. Oh, and if you want to donate to Bynum-Coleman, please click here. Go Sheila!
- “Why should this race be personal for each of you? Raise your hand if you’ve heard of the 1619 New York Times story or read it yourself. Raise your hand if 400 years after folks landed in Virginia, we need a more just Commonwealth than we have right now. So it’s not optional, it’s not down there. The concerned women of Chesterfield County, those are women that are you and all of us…fighting for our values and we have to be with them and we have to be with Sheila, knocking doors in addition to raising money.”
- “So I want to say three things about Sheila, she’s the star of the show, so first of all she is running in the district that is the correctly non-gerrymandered district. That is House District 66, Speaker of the House Kirk Cox. You may not, you may not use your conference room the NRA to lobby on gun safety after Virginia Beach. So that’s the district. A little bit of facts about the district. Hillary Clinton won by five points in that district. This is a winnable district if we turn out the vote.“
- “And the last thing – there are five issues that Sheila focuses on on her website. She got her start advocating for students with disabilities in her own family. She is committed on climate change, she’s committed on gun safety and criminal justice reform…I met her at the women’s summit and I was like, we’re gonna do a fundraiser and we’re gonna get you ten thousand dollars. And we are very very close to that $10,000. She’s also a mom on a mission and a great human being – Sheila!”
And now, Sheila Bynum-Coleman’s speech, with a few highlights. Is she awesome or what?!?
- “I went on to graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University from the Wilder School. And I wasn’t a traditional student, because I had my first child when I was 22. I was brutally raped and left for dead and my doctor told me I would never have kids. Don’t feel sorry, I’m okay…and I had my first daughter at 22, she was born with a very rare lung disease. After then I had two more, and the second one was born with a very rare heart disease which he still has right now. He was told he would never play competitive sports, and he’s down at IMG Sports Academy playing basketball right now.”
- “I believe in why I’m running. So I ran in 2015, because my son Cody…has a learning disability…part of his brain is moving really really fast…and the other part is really really slow. And so the things that come easy to us, it’s not really easy for him. And so Cody was coming home with his face swollen because the kids beat him up, he wouldn’t fight back, because he was talking about these what they thought were weird. And the teacher had a meeting with the students and everyone was able to talk about how annoying he was….she felt like Cody needed to know how his stories were frustrating to other kids, they don’t want to hear it. And so from there I began to fight for my kid yeah [Applause] I went to my School Board member, [he] said it was a state issue….So I went to my school board member, he told me to go to my delegate. I went to my delegate…I asked him for a 15-minute meeting, and he said no. And I said you should meet with me. He said I’m not getting involved, and I said I’m running against you [Applause].”
- “It was a very ruby red district right, but I didn’t care. I cared more about not just my son, because I advocated for my son I got him what he needed. But… there were so many kids just like Cody with other disabilities that weren’t getting what they needed. And so I’m like no, this is not right, we gotta fix this. And so I lost an election. My daughter, my second oldest, got shot in 2016. She survived and she’s okay. But we still don’t know who shot her…She was at a party; a guy and a girl get into an argument, they both pull out guns and start shooting like the wild wild west. My daughter was hit in the shoulder; the bullet came through and grazed her right here on her chin. Had she been looking to the right, it would have gone through her face, but she was looking to the left, and so it grazed her under the chin.”
- “So then in 2017, I went back to [Delegate Riley Ingram] and I said, hey…what are you going to do? And he said, antique license plates…I was so upset, and he told me…to be successful in this business, you vote for your party or they’ll run someone against you. And I said, Riley, what about education, what about all these other issues? And he said, no one calls me but you, Sheila. He said you’re the only one who calls me about education; people call me about antique license plates…So that was 2017, and I lost that election by 800 votes.”
- “Then the maps changed…now this district is more Democratic. And it’s not just for me, though. It really bothers me when people say the map was redrawn for me. It wasn’t redrawn for me, it was redrawn for the people. This seat does not belong to Kirk Cox. Kirk Cox has a seat at the table because he took it. He doesn’t have a seat because he earned it. They were able to draw the maps to benefit them and that is not democracy; that hurts the fundamental principles of this democracy. I believe in equality liberty and justice for all. I’m running because I believe that those words should not just be words that we hear about, that we write about, but they should be what we live by. People should feel that they have a place in their government, that their government is working for them, for the majority of us, not just a few of us. I’m working to make sure that we have equality.“
- “This is 2019…and so housing discrimination [against LGBT people] is perfectly legal. ERA; the fact that as a woman, I can get paid less than you as the man and it’s legal is a problem. Equality, Liberty, Justice for All [Applause]. We have to make sure that the system is fair… Criminal justice reform is not just something people want, it’s a need. We have more black men in prison, on probation or parole, than we had black people enslaved in the Americas in 1840. This is wrong.”
- “There’s so many things that I see that is wrong with our government that can be changed by this common-sense legislation, if we work together to do the right thing for the masses of people and not just for a small percentage of people, we can build a stronger Virginia, we can build a more equitable Virginia, and we can make sure that people feel that they have a place in our government, and that’s why I’m running.” [Applause]
- “Although I’m running to represent the 66th district, my votes will impact Virginia for generations….We’re talking about changes that’s going to impact all of you. And this is a much-needed change. I appreciate all of you coming out. I know what’s at stake. I’m averaging close to a thousand doors a week…My son who just went to Florida, I’ve never seen the school, I sent my kid and my money…On move-in day, he said I’m the only one that’s here without a parent. And I said, you’re the only one whose parent is running against the Speaker of the House [Applause]…And he said, mom, I’m going to be ok, I’ll figure it out.”
- “We just had our first TV ad go up. It was difficult for me to come out swinging, right, to come out fighting. And I called on my college professor and I said this is hard for me…And you know what she said to me? She said, you have to decide, what’s more important, your feelings or the people of Virginia? And I said, well now that you put it that way.”
- “My opponent has a war chest and I’m not trying to raise as much money as he is. We’re trying to raise enough money to run our race, to make sure that we can get the people on the doors, that we can stay on TV, if we can get the mail in the mailboxes. And now and I will say this, and it hasn’t come out yet, but all of your efforts have have been so great, that… from July to August we’ve raised $290,000 [Applause]. With in-kind…it’s like $306,000…I want you all to know how committed I am. Starting Monday, I will not be working with my husband anymore, and I will be campaigning full time…I am truly committed to this fight to make sure that we take control of the House of Delegates and we build stronger, more equitable Virginia for everyone.”
Great, great stuff. And, of course, the chance of a much, much better political future for Virginia with Sheila Bynum-Coleman than with the godawful Kirk Cox. So…please support this amazing candidate and let’s win this thing!