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WHEREAS, July 1st marks the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of Virginia of 1971; and
WHEREAS, in 1776, Virginia led the nation by adopting the Virginia Declaration of Rights, a document enshrining the rights of its citizens and later influenced other states’ bills of rights and United States Constitution Bill of Rights; and
WHEREAS, the 1902 Constitution of Virginia disenfranchised the vast majority of Virginia’s African-American population; and
WHEREAS, by adopting the Constitution of 1971, Virginia took important steps to address the wrongs institutionalized by the 1902 Constitution; and
WHEREAS, the Constitution of 1971 repudiated the poll tax, segregated schools, and other impediments of full citizenship for all Virginians; and
WHEREAS, Virginia finally had a Constitution that expressly prohibited discrimination based on religious conviction, race, color, or national origin; and
WHEREAS, the Constitution of 1971 places education at the heart of civic values by proclaiming education to be a fundamental right and by placing constitutional mandates on the Commonwealth and its localities to provide free public schools for every child of school age in Virginia; and
WHEREAS, in the spirit of the Virginia Declaration of Rights – “that all men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights” – Virginia, its government, and its people are committed to nurturing the fundamental rights of all who live here;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize July 1, 2021, as the 50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE CONSTITUTION OF VIRGINIA OF 1971 in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.