ICYMI: Governor Glenn Youngkin spent the past few days participating in tributes to honor the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
On Friday, Youngkin participated in Virginia Union University’s 46th annual community leaders celebration of MLK.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin took a moment to note some more recent history: Wednesday’s election of Del. Don Scott Jr., D-Portsmouth, as the first African American speaker of the House of Delegates.
“I leaned over to shake his hand,” Youngkin said. “On the left, I saw Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears; to the right, President Pro Tempore of the Senate Louise Lucas.”
With three African Americans at the top of Virginia’s government, it was a good moment, Youngkin said, to remind students of the historically Black university of its mission, “to chase your dreams.”
That, he said, was what King — “a man who forever changed the course of human history” — did with his call to remember the lesson of his faith that we should love one another.
On Monday, Youngkin participated in the Martin Luther King Day of Service at Woodland Cemetary.
The winter weather didn’t stop Governor Glenn Youngkin and dozens of volunteers from heading to Woodland Cemetery Monday to pay their respects and to help in the restoration effort for Martin Luther King Day of Service.
The cemetery, located at 2300 Magnolia Road, rests in Henrico on the border with Richmond.
“This was one of the more prominent cemeteries where African Americans in greater Richmond were buried,” Gov. Youngkin said. “And then it was lost to nature and wasn’t taken care of. What a great collaboration to reestablish the dignity of so many people.”
More than 30,000 African Americans are estimated to be buried in the cemetery, dating back to the early 1900s, including some World War I veterans.
“Arthur Ashe is buried here, and I just had the great chance to meet some of his family members,” Youngkin said. “It is a really important moment for us to come together and make sure that Virginians, particularly those Virginians that might have been forgotten, are remembered.”
Gov. Youngkin got their hands and boots dirty, helping to trace the outline of buried gravestones pre-marked and then carefully digging them up to be cleaned.
“I want to be gentle because I don’t want to hurt it,” Youngkin said as he worked. “Seriously, I mean, this is someone’s life. And I feel an amazing sense of duty in order to take really good care of this.”
Once the stones are pulled up, they are scrubbed, rinsed and set aside to dry. A flag marker remains next to them for tracking.
“The good thing is there was some real progress made in the last few years to really create a fund to support cemeteries where African Americans have been buried and forgotten,” Youngkin said. “And the funding there will continue, and I think it’s really important. And I just call on volunteer organizations to do our part too.”