by Paul Goldman
As Doug Wilder and Henry Howell taught me, there is only one place to go to debunk Mayor Jones’ claim my being white has anything to do with opposition to his Shockoe Stadium baloney: that’s right, right in front of the Richmond Crusade for Voters. They are his long-time supporters and the state’s leading African-American political organization.
They have invited me to speak: and speak I shall tonight.
As the writer of the Stadium Referendum petitions now being circulated, I will tell the Mayor, his chief Stadium defender Mr. Hicks, and his political mentor Mr. Marsh precisely what Doug Wilder and Henry Howell would tell them: the truth whether they want to hear it or not.
Historically, Mr. Jones, Mr. Hicks and Mr. Marsh have been against giving white Richmonders – and African-American Richmonders too – the right to vote on these referendum issues.
Why is that?
As Doug and Henry taught me, challenging their anti-white racism before a mostly white audience proves nothing. Having been campaign manager for both of them gives me a unique and I suppose never again to be duplicated situation in that regard in Virginia politics. I didn’t think anything of the sort back in 1985 when Doug and Larry and I got into that borrowed station wagon for the now fabled 3000 mile journey across the Commonwealth. Larry drove, I got to sit in the back seat plotting the PR strategy. What’s not to like!
But 29 years later, not enough has changed- for them or me – in Richmond politics on the race issue for sure. So I know what they would have done: They would do what I am going to do tonight, go before the Richmond Crusade for Voters and send a message they need to hear:
Did a single African-American elected official in Richmond ask him to take it back at least, did a single group claiming to speak for a new Richmond call him out for this oldest of politics?
Not to my knowledge.
Henry Howell never flinched from challenging such racial politics before any white group. Doug Wilder went out of his way to reject the votes of African-American Republicans who said they were abandoning the GOP for that reason.
They understood the corrosive, political poison of race-based politics to our children’s future.
They understood you simply can’t build a new Richmond on this same old race-baiting politics that has consumed too many, black and white, for far too long.
Yet despite all these provocations over the years – Dwight, Henry and David and their side accused me of being anti-black for leading the campaign to get the Elected Mayor referendum on the ballot [they predictably said it would guarantee the election of a White Mayor!] – I have never held a grudge. When they have asked for my help for a good cause, they have always received it. Life is too short to hold grudges.
On racial matters, we all have progress to make it individual and as a community. But whatever one may think about the speed of progress, there is one constant in that path to betterment:
It is very hurtful, distributive and hugely counter-productive for the Mayor of this City to say what Mr. Jones said about White residents, and for his supporters to fail to call him out on it, indeed demand that he apologize or at least take it back.
He badly poisoned the Shockoe Stadium debate. Tonight, I will offer Richmond the only true path out of the mess he and his cronies have created in that regard.
Tonight, I will explain why his Stadium proposal fails not a black or white test: but the green test for all Richmonders except certain politically connected cronies of the Jones/Hicks/Marsh machine who have their eyes on $100 millions in potential greenbacks they hope will be doled out in a fashion to be exposed for the first time tonight.
Paul Goldman is in no way affiliated with WTVR. His comments are his own, and do not reflect the views of WTVR or any related entity. Neither WTVR nor any of its employees or agents participated in any way with the preparation of Mr. Goldman’s comments.