WOODBRIDGE, VA — Democratic Nominee for Lieutenant Governor, Delegate Hala Ayala released the following statement honoring Juneteenth, an historic holiday which celebrates the ending of slavery but also a time to remember the legacy of slavery and the systematic racism that continues to be a barrier to racial equity and justice. Today Delegate Ayala will join SEIU Virginia 512 for a Juneteenth celebration in Richmond and will be the keynote speaker.
“I am proud to join so many across our nation and Commonwealth to honor Juneteenth - a day of somber remembrance and also celebration. For over two centuries our nation has celebrated the fourth of July as independence day - but not all Americans were truly free. Now thanks to President Biden and Governor Northam, we have a holiday that truly commemorates the legacy of slavery in our country. As we celebrate the final African-Americans hearing of Emancipation today, our Commonwealth is at an inflection point. In Virginia - the former capital of the Confederacy, we have made so much progress to address the legacy of slavery in our Commonwealth. From expanding voting access, to passing criminal justice reform - we have made great efforts to create justice and equity in Virginia. But we still have much work to do to make sure that we address the lasting legacy of slavery in our Commonwealth and ensure that equity is at the forefront of our policy and governance. The observance of Juneteenth and discussion of these issues is an important start, and as Lieutenant Governor, and the first Afro-Latina to serve in a Statewide office in Virginia, I will be committed to breaking down the barriers that our Black community faces.”
Ayala — the first Afro-Latina elected to the General Assembly — serves in leadership as Chief Deputy Whip in the House of Delegates. She has helped usher in transformational progress for Virginia, including expanding Medicaid, passing historic criminal justice reforms, and raising teacher pay. A lifelong Virginia resident, Ayala went from working at a gas station for minimum wage while pregnant with her son to a career in cyber security. She would make history as the first woman elected Virginia Lieutenant Governor and the first woman of color elected statewide in Virginia history.