Virginia NAACP Strongly Condemns Racist Dog Whistle Remarks of Senators Peterson and Saslaw And Demands An Apology to Virginia’s Black Students

RICHMOND – The Virginia State Conference NAACP (Virginia NAACP) strongly condemns the racist dog-whistle remarks made by Senators Chap Petersen and Dick Saslaw during last Thursday’s Senate Education Committee meeting.

HB2305, patroned by Del. Roslyn Tyler, would have required the Virginia Board of Education to issue guidance on the governance of academic year Governor’s Schools, including communication and outreach practices, admissions policies, and guidelines on diversity, equity, and inclusion training. The bill was defeated due to the votes of the following Senators: Cosgrove, Dunnavant, Edwards, Lewis, Newman, Peake, Petersen, Saslaw, and Suetterlein.

Virginia NAACP President Robert N. Barnette, Jr., said:

“During a heated debate on House Bill 2305, Senators Petersen and Saslaw made disparaging remarks aligned with racist stereotypes of racial inferiority of Virginia’s Black students.

Rather than supporting this important bill to add much-needed diversity in Virginia’s Governor’s School program, Senator Petersen insinuated that there aren’t more Black students in Virginia’s Governor’s School program because Black students don’t focus on their academics.

Sadly, Senator Dick Saslaw’s comments were no better. In addition to lumping together Latino and Black students, he insinuated that Black and Latino students hadn’t done everything they could to improve their situations.

While some may interpret these senators’ remarks as simply standing up for one group of students, we don’t buy it. The Virginia Senate is no place for peddling racist dog whistles; all Virginia students deserve better than that.

The Virginia NAACP demands an immediate, public apology by Senators Peterson and Saslaw. Their undoubtedly insensitive remarks are one of the primary reasons that HB2305 is needed in the first place.”

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Founded in 1935, the Virginia State Conference of NAACP Branches (Virginia NAACP) is the oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization in the Commonwealth, overseeing over 100 NAACP branches, youth councils, and college chapters. The Virginia NAACP is focused on being the preeminent voice of Black Virginians and advocating for policies and programs to benefit Blacks and people of color. You can read more about the Virginia NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas by visiting

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