African-Americans should have a choice

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 19, 2005

All I have asked for in my life is fairness and access to equal opportunity. This was something that I had been denied for most of my life growing up in the early 1970’s in Suffolk when great sacrifice, hard work and struggle were a part of our daily routines. My family has always been very conservative. Therefore, I did not ask for special consideration because I was a black woman. I simply wanted the opportunity to pursue my &uot;American Dream&uot; and present my credentials to the marketplace for due and fair consideration.

This is why I am supporting Jerry Kilgore for Governor because he believes that it is time for all Virginians to seize the opportunities right in front of us. Jerry knows, as well as I, that the African American community must also began to capitalize on those opportunities God has so graciously made available to all Virginians. However, this can’t happen until we finally bid farewell to the tired old divisions that have been allowed to separate us for far too long. It is time we build a united Commonwealth of Opportunity where our communities understand the value of strong families, limited government, self-help and individual responsibility.

Jerry Kilgore also realizes that Virginia’s neighborhoods face a host of challenges in the years ahead. He knows we must position our Commonwealth and our children to aggressively compete in the 21st century’s global economy, to combat growing public safety issues as gangs who are murdering our children in our neighborhoods and terrorize our senior citizens. Recently in Hampton Roads there have been over 20 murders in the past 21 days. Just the other day there was a triple homicide in Hampton involving three young black men and a black teenage girl was gunned down while playing on a street corner in Suffolk. We stand at a crossroads, because there has been no sense of community or spiritual outrage, with regard to this madness.

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Jerry Kilgore views these challenges not as difficulties to face reluctantly, but as challenges that must be addressed aggressively, regardless of race and regardless or where we live. Jerry also realizes that African Americans, like all Virginians, want the same things like: owning a home; creating self-sustaining employment; providing a world class education for their children; and keeping our children safe.

That is why he is not running with one plan for one group, and one plan for another. Instead he is talking about all of us working together to achieve a common goal: To create a Commonwealth of Opportunity.

Jerry will ensure that all our children receive the best education possible by implementing a system of better pay for better teachers and set high expectations for all our children because he knows what a great education means to the quality of our lives. Whether you are a child growing up in rural Virginia, such as Jerry did, or in inner-city Norfolk or Suffolk like I did, we all realize that education is the key to our future.

Jerry Kilgore knows that it is the responsibility of government to ensure that all Virginians receive the best education possible- regardless of where they live or the color of their skin.

He will also continue to stand up for law-abiding citizens, and stand against law-breakers and neighborhood violence, because no Virginian should have to live in a community where they are not safe and their streets and homes are not secure. And he will look out for homeowners by capping property assessment increases, so that more Virginians can become homeowners, and homeowners can remain in the homes in which they have raised a family.

I now realize that times have changed since my childhood days and the battles for opportunity that I fought for then, as president of the Suffolk Chapter of the NAACP, still exist but in a very different way. Today our battles are no longer contested in the streets, but in our neighborhood school houses, in the General Assembly, in local city halls, and in the corporate boardrooms in Virginia. Sadly, our community’s infants, teenagers and their families are in trouble because none of our neighborhoods can rise above the strength of our families or the virtues of our neighbors. Therefore, we must demand that our next Governor provide the principled leadership necessary to move Virginia closer to fully realizing my enduring dream of fairness and opportunity.

Jerry Kilgore is going to keep bringing his message of opportunity for all us who reside in Virginia. Our democracy only works if our citizens actually have a choice when they go to the polls in November. Jerry has said so often in this campaign that if you give him a chance he will give you a choice. My choice for the next Governor of Virginia will be Jerry Kilgore because he is proposing solutions that will empower the citizens who live in our neighborhoods and educate and protect our children.

Ida O. McPherson is a Norfolk attorney and native of Suffolk.