Chap Petersen called out for praising Jim Crow schools

State Sen. Chap Petersen (D-34) has been criticized by 33 leaders of Fairfax County Democratic Committee (FCDC) for favorable comments he made about public education under Jim Crow segregation.

Petersen made the comments Thursday, June 11, on a radio talk show and apologized after the Fairfax County NAACP called them “racist and hurtful”. The FCDC leaders’ statement acknowledges the apology but terms it “only a first step.”

Petersen was quoted as saying on The John Fredericks Show, “Jim Crow, segregation, Massive Resistance, all those people, look, there were some bad decisions made, but at least they had a school system, ok, at least they had a functioning school system. And we don’t even have a functioning system at this point.”

The NAACP statement (full text here) called Petersen’s words “unacceptable at any time but especially now in the wake of yet another Black person attacked by police right here in Fairfax County.”

In his apology on his Facebook page, Petersen said, “I did not mean (and I hope this is clear) to excuse in any way the policies of racial segregation which caused so much harm in this state and others.”

The FCDC leaders’ statement, issued Sat., June 13, calls Petersen’s comments “inaccurate and harmful” and calls on him to join the rest of the Democratic Party in fighting against racial and social injustice.

Here is the statement, signed by 33 members of the FCDC Steering Committee:

Senator Chap Petersen recently made offensive comments about American school systems under Jim Crow, for which he apologized after the Fairfax NAACP rightly pointed out his “lack of empathy…for the plight of people of color throughout history.”

We, the undersigned members of the Steering Committee of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, while acknowledging Senator Petersen’s apology, find his original comments inaccurate and harmful. His apology is only the first step.

We hope the Senator will join the rest of the Democratic Party in redoubling our efforts to fight against racial and social injustices wherever they can be found in our society.

Bryan Graham – Chair, FCDC

Kimberly Adams – 10th Congressional District Representative

Tina Barchik – Vice Chair, Finance

Amber Beichler – Chair, LGBTQ+ Committee

Paul Berry – Vice Chair, Technology

Jimmy Bierman – District Chair, Dranesville

Greg Brandon – Chair, Central Communications Committee

Kristin Cabral – Co-Chair, Election Law & Voter Protection

Richard Chew – District Chair, Hunter Mill

Paul Davis – Regional Vice Chair, North

Nadja Golding – Treasurer

Shyamali Hauth – Chair, Veterans & Military Families Committee

Holly Hazard – Chair, Women’s Rights Committee

Kelly Hebron – District Chair, Lee

Kat Kehoe – Chair, Environmental Committee

Debbie Kilpatrick – Chair, Education Committee

Sandra Klassen – Chair, National Affairs Committee

Dan Lagana – Immediate Past FCDC Chair

Jennifer Lowe Davis – District Chair, Springfield

Andy Pavord – District Co-Chair, Providence

Rachel Rifkind – District Chair, Mason

Saddam Salim – District Co-Chair, Providence

Andrew Scalise – Assistant Treasurer

Mark Schiller – Chair, Youth Affairs

Bryan Scrafford – District Chair, Sully

Julie Shepard – Regional Vice Chair, South

Manisha Singh – Regional Vice Chair, Central

Stephen Spitz – Co-Chair, Election Law & Voter Protection

Denver Supinger – Vice Chair, Outreach

Brad Swanson – Chair, Newsletter Committee

Aaron Yohai – District Chair, Braddock

Janice Yohai – Vice Chair, Voter Registration & Education

Maritza Zermeño – District Chair, Mount Vernon

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