Arlington, VA

Community Matters is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

Last year I joined a coalition of women’s organizations as a part of Vision 2020, which aims to increase the number of women who participate in the political process by voting and through public service. Vision 2020 had a goal of a record-breaking number of eligible women voting in the November 2020 national elections.

Over the last several months, I have also been engaged in a number of discussions analyzing next steps for women and political participation after the centennial of the 19th amendment. In order to increase the number of registered women across the nation,  women voting advocates in San Francisco, CA have challenged Arlington to participate in a pilot program and develop strategies to register every eligible female Arlington voter.

As a community that values civic participation, we should do more to consider why some decide not to register to vote. We should not congratulate ourselves on a high rate without considering why the people who aren’t registered have decided to opt out of this specific activity.

I would be curious to know whether not registering to vote is a predictor of other behaviors as well, and if these nonvoters have a particular perspective that we don’t generally consider when we focus on soliciting voters’ opinions. I addressed this in an October 2020 column, Community Matters: When “None of the Above” is Your Only Choice.

Arlington County does a great job of providing election information online. The General Assembly has expanded voter access by removing the witness signature requirement, making it easier to vote by mail and early in person absentee. Voter registration is often available at new citizen ceremonies. Organizations like the League of Women Voters of Arlington spend a large proportion of their resources on voter registration.

Despite these successes, we should consider whether we are being unintentionally exclusive.

We should do more to learn about the Arlington residents who are not registered to vote, and determine their concerns. Once we determine what their specific concerns are, we should try to address them. In Arlington, there are approximately 8,000 women who are over 18 and not registered to vote. If they are otherwise not eligible, we should determine that and strategize about how we can remove barriers.

More organizations should include voter registration in their civic engagement efforts. The State Board of Elections has facilitated voter registration training for groups, and provided QR codes for volunteers. We should also continue to diversify outreach efforts, and expand multicultural voter registration efforts.

Organizations should teach their members to address the behavioral barriers cited by nonvoters. Strategies could include discussing the specific impact certain local elected officials have on the issues they care about, as opposed to federal leaders, which are often vilified for partisanship. For those who feel they don’t know the issues well enough to vote, we should solicit their opinion on the key issues, and empower and value their perspective. We should also steer them towards resources which outline the candidates’ platforms.

While voter registration is not compulsory in the US, considering our nation’s history and current actions to suppress voter participation, Arlington should do even more to ensure that we have maximum participation in the electoral process. The work we do in Arlington to register that small remaining number of voters, could assist other localities in increasing voter registration and participation. If you are interested in participating in our pilot challenge program, please email [email protected].

Krysta Jones has lived in Arlington since 2004 and is active in local politics and civic life. This column is in no way associated with or represents any person, government, organization or body — except Krysta herself.

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Community Matters is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

Over the past several months I have researched my ancestry online, connecting with 3rd and 4th cousins whom I have never met. In that research, through old news articles and death records, I learned and confirmed stories of domestic violence and murder in our family in the early 1900s.

These revelations have increased my interest in learning more about and preventing intimate partner violence.

For the past nine months I have led my sorority’s international domestic violence policy efforts and have become more frustrated with the slow progress in eliminating this deadly issue. Understanding that it is a complicated problem, I use every avenue to remind myself and others of the impact that it has on our communities. According to the Partnership Against Domestic Violence, every 9 seconds, another woman in the U.S. is beaten. Of course, women aren’t the only victims; men are simply less likely to report the abuse.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization expired in 2018, and the 2021 version was reintroduced recently by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX). The reauthorization is a priority for President Biden who has led its reauthorization since 1994. The new bill builds upon the previous versions of VAWA, aims to improve access to housing for victims and survivors, protects victims of dating violence from firearm homicide, and helps survivors gain and maintain economic independence.

During the 2021 General Assembly session, HB 1992 was introduced by Delegate Kathleen Murphy, and prohibits a person who has been convicted of assault and battery of a family or household member from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm. The prohibition expires three years after the date of conviction, at which point the person’s firearms rights are restored, unless he receives another disqualifying conviction. A person who violates the provisions of the bill is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. A similar bill that was introduced by Senator Barbara Favola which would have made it a Class 3 misdemeanor, was defeated by the Senate. HB 1992 is awaiting the Governor’s signature.

Domestic violence doesn’t only affect the perpetrator and the survivor. It can have a lasting impact on family members, and we can eradicate intimate partner violence by starting with our youth. The Centers for Disease Control program, “Dating Matters”, is designed for local entities (e.g.,health departments, boys and girls clubs), and employs evidence-based strategies and a community-driven approach to educate youth, parents, educators, schools, and neighborhoods about healthy relationships to stop dating violence before it starts.

We are extremely fortunate to live in a community that has invested resources in addressing domestic violence, and COVID-19 has placed even more families at risk. Doorways’ 24-hour domestic and sexual violence hotline provides an immediate, safe response for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Arlington County’s Project PEACE is a coordinated community response dedicated to advancing the most effective and efficient array of education, prevention, protection, and support services to end domestic and sexual violence in our community. You can learn more about Project PEACE online.

There are too many people who still believe that domestic violence is the “dirty little family secret” that we can’t address. If you or someone you know needs support because of intimate partner violence please reach out to Doorways 24-hour hotline at 703-237-0881 and the Arlington County Police Department at 9-1-1.

Krysta Jones has lived in Arlington since 2004 and is active in local politics and civic life. This column is in no way associated with or represents any person, government, organization or body — except Krysta herself.

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Community Matters is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

This year, I was honored to be named a 2021 “Strong Woman in Virginia History”, along with four other outstanding Virginians, including fellow Arlingtonian Evelyn Syphax. I must admit that the award challenged my idea of history and how we celebrate.

I was impressed by looking at past honorees that the Library of Virginia and Dominion Energy, the program sponsors, seem to have consistently recognized Virginians at all stages of their lives.

The program is designed to engage students by providing a class of school aged children  an opportunity to speak with the awardees, and learn more about their lives. The Library also sends posters featuring the honorees to schools and libraries throughout the Commonwealth.

As we reflect on Black History Month and embark on Women’s History Month, I challenge you to think about your process of viewing, teaching,  promoting, and integrating history into your leadership roles, throughout the year.

Look at history holistically and critically

I was speaking with someone last weekend and they noted that people tend to look at recent history, and not consider how we got to that point. History can also be complex. For example, we are taught about the Civil Rights Movement without understanding the short term progress made during Reconstruction. If you are trying to strategize about how we move forward as a nation, you should understand both.

Avoid compartmentalizing

For so long, we have forced all the black history into February, only highlighted women during March, etc. We should use these months as a reset or kickoff to  yearlong commemorations and discuss how we can integrate knowledge learned throughout the year.

Focus on living history

We should continue to celebrate those who are currently living and making history. Examining their accomplishments in real time is instructive, and can also add another dimension to our study, by viewing them and their work as evolving, instead of static.

Make it relevant

When we have an opportunity to discuss or commemorate a historical event, compare it to current events, or have a discussion about how it may be similar or different. For example when discussing social services or early transportation planning, we might continue to mention leaders like Ellen Bozman, and use that opportunity to reflect on the challenges she faced and her contributions.

Remind youth that they are making history

We should do even more to focus and celebrate youth accomplishments, and what they mean in the context of current events. When recognizing community members, we should consider also honoring a youth, and even including their perspective on the nominating committee.

Include a community engagement perspective

Many of our organizations honor people who are making history, and similar to the Library of Virginia’s Strong Men and Women of Virginia History award, we should consider how we will educate people about their accomplishments beyond a press release or awards ceremony.

Many of us are excited about and pressing for rapid change. I fear that change won’t happen unless we get everyone up to speed on what we have already experienced. It is critical that we put our current challenges in context, or history will truly be forced to repeat itself.

Krysta Jones has lived in Arlington since 2004 and is active in local politics and civic life. This column is in no way associated with or represents any person, government, organization or body — except Krysta herself.

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Community Matters is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

I feel a shift in Arlingtonians’ desire to increase communication.

Whether it’s reaching out to our government officials, advocacy organizations, fellow residents, or media platforms, there is less acceptance of the status quo, and more impetus to tell someone how we feel.

Since we must often communicate virtually, we have to find a way to communicate effectively, including expressing dissent, sadness, and joy, all through computer screens. Some of us may find this more difficult, and some may actually prefer the lack of in person communication.

In recent weeks I have also been more aware of an increase in general, as well as the facets of dissent. Brene Brown’s recent conversation with President Barack Obama focuses on the tension of opposites, or the ability to hold two competing ideas in our minds. This is an important aspect of leadership, and if we can hold more than our own ideas in our minds when we disagree, it will help us reach more viable, long-term solutions.

As our communication changes, how we disagree might also change.  In today’s culture, it’s easier to disagree anonymously and online. Researcher Arthur Santana showed that anonymous comments on news sites can be classified as “uncivil” around  53% of the time, compared to just 29% for not anonymous comments. Psychologist Sherry Turkle says we are rude because we tend to dehumanize each other online. As we don’t see the immediate effect of our words on the other person, we don’t choose our language carefully.

We should all consider ways that we can disagree more effectively, and remember that we are communicating with a person with thoughts, feelings, and sometimes, good ideas.

Start interactions by connecting, and truly seeing others as people. While this is simply good manners, some people respond better to social connections as opposed to plunging into the topic of the discussion. Especially with virtual communication, it may be even more important to try to connect to see how people are really doing as people, before any conversation, whether there is discord or not.

Look at the situation holistically. While your perspective is just as important as anyone else’s, I would encourage those who are truly concerned about moving the whole community forward, to think about other perspectives and the big picture. Consider thinking about how we can work together for a common, larger solution, and factor that into your ideas.

We need better arguments. In his October 2020 article, Erik Gross notes that, “better arguments are about prioritizing relationships and listening passionately, paying attention to context, embracing vulnerability, and making room to transform. Arguing, if done right, can humanize those that we disagree with and bring people together in the common pursuit.”

Think. Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. said, “Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.” In order to disagree respectfully, we have to think more than if  we speak from the top of our heads.

We are on the cusp of tremendous growth and change in Arlington. These daily interactions as we seek to embrace new people and ideas will inevitably result in conflict. When we choose to intentionally and respectfully disagree, and dare to take the time to see others as people, and everything they bring to the table, we create a better Arlington for us all.

Krysta Jones has lived in Arlington since 2004 and is active in local politics and civic life. This column is in no way associated with or represents any person, government, organization or body — except Krysta herself.

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Community Matters is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

There is no doubt that 2020 was a difficult year that presented revelations for many, and left almost all of us with unanswered questions.

As we cautiously step into 2021, decisions loom about everything from police-community relations, schools, COVID management, economic development, political leadership, and race. As a community, we have a responsibility to act on many of the conversations that we started. Memories are often short, therefore we should pause to recognize that we took several positive first steps, specifically on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Financial investments — Minority communities have long stressed the need for increased financial investments in sustainable organizations which serve underrepresented groups. As noted in a June 2020 Washington Post article, Bank of America pledged $1 billion to fight racial inequality in America. Tech companies have invested in Black Lives Matter, the Center for Policing Equity, Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp and other entities engaged in racial justice efforts. Businesses in other industries have also announced significant investments.

NEXT STEP: Follow the impact of these dollars and rebut claims that investing in minority communities is discriminatory. See the recent case in Oregon.

Diversity statements- – While a statement is just words, we can be hopeful that there was also positive intent in the flurry of press releases,  social media posts and black squares declaring commitments to diversity and inclusion. In 2021, we must hold those who made the statements (and posted squares) accountable.

NEXT STEP: Did your organizations, employers, or favorite companies issue statements? What steps have they taken to fulfill the meaning of the statements? How will you help with the implementation?

Support for Black businesses — The Economic Policy Institute stated in 2017 that average wealth for white families was seven times higher than average wealth for Black families. By supporting Black businesses, you are also supporting Black families, and helping to decrease the gap. The current list of Arlington Black businesses is paltry, but it is a start.

NEXT STEP: Encourage an African-American in Arlington to start a business and help them strategize about access to capital, support the Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce, or patronize an Arlington Black business.

Acknowledging and Celebrating Juneteenth — Juneteenth is “the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond.” Juneteenth is now officially a recognized holiday in Virginia, and Nike, the Washington Post and many other companies now observe it. 

NEXT STEP: Plan now how you will commemorate Juneteenth this year.

Policing and criminal INjustice reform — The General Assembly passed a number of reforms in 2020 including creating Marcus alert mobile crisis co-response teams to mental health incidents, prohibiting no knock warrants and neck restraints, and allowing localities to create citizen review boards. Arlington County also created the Police Practices Work Group to provide recommendations to the County.

NEXT STEP: Be vigilant and ensure appropriate and complete implementation of new laws and policies, and continue to support additional reforms in line with your beliefs.

If you made progress last year, whether you read a book about race, had a deep conversation with a friend about inequality, or recognized your own implicit bias, congratulate yourself on taking that first step, and continue accentuating the positives in 2021. 

Krysta Jones has lived in Arlington since 2004 and is active in local politics and civic life. This column is in no way associated with or represents any person, government, organization or body — except Krysta herself.

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Community Matters is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

I often receive questions about how to broaden an organization’s membership whether it be race, age, or talent.

As I have written previously, we are challenged with having the same people across our associations which stifles the growth of some of our residents, organizations and the community as a whole.

This summer, many white people were asking what they could do to help with race relations. A continual concern among our Arlington organizations is the “graying” of our membership, and the difficulty attracting younger members. Some organizations are concerned whether they have the numbers to compete with other larger organizations. Other organizations do not feel their members have the technical expertise to succeed.

In Arlington County, we love our organizations. With over 50 advisory boards and commissions, over 80 member groups of the Arlington County Civic Federation and numerous additional civic groups which cover a variety of interests, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved.

We pride ourselves on civic engagement and much of that is done through associations. Decisions are made at the organizational level which have weight with our local government. Organizational leaders generally have entree with elected officials and the media. We routinely honor our community groups and their members for their service. We identify people by their organizational involvement.

I have two simple first steps:

Hold a join Zoom social event with an organization that is different than yours. The group could represent a younger demographic, have more or less racial diversity, have more or less organizational history, have a different focus, etc. These informal opportunities to engage with new people are valuable to us as individuals and our organizations.

It’s been several months since America had our most recent awakening about the status of structural racism. I don’t think many were surprised to hear that the majority of the respondents so far in the County’s Dialogues on Race and Equity (DRE) survey have been middle-aged white women. My guess is that some non-white middle aged Arlingtonians believe that this survey is simply not for them, yet the County is seeking a more diverse sample of the community. The County’s DRE includes conversations across groups.

Invite a prospective member who fits the profile of a person to your next meeting or event or to speak about a topic of interest. I spoke to the Arlington Rotary Club a few months ago and I was invited to be a member on the spot. I have thoroughly enjoyed connecting with people whom I probably never would have met. I would not have likely sought membership with Rotary, but I have already reaped tremendous rewards.

We often view our organizational shortcomings as huge insurmountable challenges which may require years of work, funding, or are just simply uncomfortable. I encourage you to take that first step, and just ask.

Krysta Jones has lived in Arlington since 2004 and is active in local politics and civic life. This column is in no way associated with or represents any person, government, organization or body — except Krysta herself.

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Community Matters is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

In the 1985 version of “Brewster’s Millions” starring Richard Pryor and John Candy, Pryor inherits $300 million, but as a condition of accepting it he has to spend $30 million in 30 days.

As a way to spend the money quickly he jumps into a divisive political campaign for Mayor of New York City, but then encourages everyone to vote for “None of the Above” as he says none of the candidates are worthy of being elected. He withdraws his candidacy, and voters end up choosing “None of the Above,” forcing a new election.

In 2016, 25% of voters said they did not vote because they didn’t like the candidates or the issues. Other reasons include feeling like their vote won’t matter and not knowing the issues well enough.

Many of us were raised to believe that voting is a right and a responsibility, and teach our children the same lesson. Yet nearly half of the nation’s eligible voters, approximately 92 million, hardly ever vote. In Arlington, we have an especially high voter turnout, with goals of 90% this year, but who are the people who don’t vote?

Non-voters are diverse. Stephen Hawkins, More in Common’s global director of research noted that, “the Disengaged would look like a Greyhound Bus Station. There are right racists and black inner-city low-income folks.” Vote Like A Woman has focused their strategy around the fact that 1 out of 3 eligible women are not registered and 53% of chronic non-voters are women.

The solution may be complicated. A February 2020 Politico article highlighted the results of the Knight study, which “indicates that voting is a social behavior and that any effort to mobilize a significant number of chronic non-voters will require complex, long-term interventions and a more nuanced understanding of this poorly understood portion of our electorate.”

Political campaigns tend to focus their resources on frequent voters due to limited time and money, therefore exacerbating the feeling of “being left out” and discouraging many from voting. Vote Like a Woman’s strategy is to engage women both 1:1 and in groups, strive for creativity in reaching nonvoters, and be honest about our current political systems.

Voting is a function of several factors, and maybe we will never reach 100%, but we can become a stronger community by listening and attempting to address the concerns of non-voters. They may have a valuable perspective just by virtue of them being non-voters that could make our community even more inclusive, and help us reform our own local political system.

Tomorrow night I am bringing together Dr. Stephen J. Farnsworth, Director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington; clinical psychologist Dr. Linda McGhee; and racial and gender justice organizer Krystal Leaphart to talk about how we can encourage more people to vote. Moderated by educator, consultant and radio host Kevin E. Boston-Hill, this session will also provide strategies to have these critical conversations. You can join this discussion “None of the Above” on Wednesday, October 28 at 6 p.m. on Facebook.

As of October 24, Arlington had surpassed 80,000 votes out of 178,532 registered voters, so we are well on our way to record turnout. It’s easy for us to laud ourselves for doing our civic duty and being responsible. Chances are we feel heard, engaged, and valued. In “Brewster’s Millions,” Pryor’s character tapped into a sentiment by addressing it head on. In Arlington, let’s boldly confront the issues that our nonvoters have and do more to listen to those who believe “None of the Above” is their only choice.

Krysta Jones has lived in Arlington since 2004 and is active in local politics and civic life. This column is in no way associated with or represents any person, government, organization or body — except Krysta herself.

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Community Matters is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

Earlier this month I attended the Arlington Historical Society (AHS) virtual event on the private school desegregation case, Runyon v. McCrary.

According to the AHS website, “the US Supreme Court outlawed racially segregated public schools in 1954, but whites-only private schools flourished throughout the South for decades. The Supreme Court’s 1976 decision extending the ban on racial segregation to private schools involved a segregated pre-school here in Arlington.”

As I was reminded of the behavior of Arlingtonians in the 1970s regarding attitudes about exclusivity and discrimination in education, I thought about how some of these attitudes still persist today. As we begin to conclude the 100 year anniversary of Arlington being named Arlington, it’s natural to think about how Arlington has, or has not, changed during that time.

Join this conversation hosted by Arlington County government today at 7 p.m. to learn more. It’s also an opportunity to discuss  where Arlington will be in five, 20 or 100 years, and how we can be intentional as a community about getting there.

I moved to Arlington in 2004, and have been involved in several community activities. While Arlington has grown, one observation I have made over the last 16 years is that the same people are involved in several leadership roles and organizations. While most people in organizations understand that a small number of people do the bulk of the work, as we move into the next 100 years, Arlington should grow our leadership table.

We should consider:

Actively fostering succession planning and limiting your time in one role. Organizations should have policies in place which encourage members to participate in different committees, shadow leaders, and provide opportunities for members to socialize with leaders and members across the organization. We should also encourage members to advance in leadership instead of remaining as general members, and begin the process of identifying someone to take your place. While we generally believe that if people have the time and talent they should not be denied the opportunity to serve, we should consider how that affects our community over time.

Creating a culture of impact and productivity instead of busyness. We tend to reward people who are “busy,” and have long resumes with additional leadership roles. We should focus on the impact made during time spent with an organization, and begin to use that as an indicator of whether someone should be offered another role. When you are offered the opportunity to serve, consider whether you should suggest someone else who is qualified.

Intentionally recruiting new leaders outside of your network.  It is generally easier to socialize with people who are like you. That’s one of the many reasons that white parents wanted their children to be in segregated schools up until 1976, and why many still want their children in segregated schools today.

I am the first to admit that I have fallen into the trap of being perpetually “busy.” Yet as I have grown in leadership, I have realized the importance of actively seeking and mentoring new leaders for the long term success of our organizations and Arlington. We should encourage each other to evolve into new roles at a higher level within Arlington, transfer our skills to the state or national level, or step back.

Those simple steps could go a long way in embracing new thought leaders and fostering change in Arlington during our next 100 years.

Krysta Jones has lived in Arlington since 2004 and is active in local politics and civic life. This column is in no way associated with or represents any person, government, organization or body — except Krysta herself.

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Community Matters is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

On August 28, the world lost an outstanding talent. Actor Chadwick Boseman, known for playing iconic Americans including Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson and James Brown, as well as T’Challa in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film Black Panther, died at age 43.

His career was lauded for several reasons, one being the way he personified influential characters. Black Panther, in particular, has an important symbolism, especially today, a widespread appeal, and inspires people of all ages to embrace Black pride. As an artist, he brought characters alive which inspired us all to learn more.

Governor Northam recently announced that Arlington Public Schools was one of 16 Virginia school divisions where students will have an opportunity to take an African American history elective course. The Virginia Commission on African American History in the Commonwealth recently released their report with recommendations for improving the student experience, enriched standards related to African American history, and necessary professional development and instructional support for teachers. These are long overdue yet welcome expansions to our curricula.

If you have recently been by the Arlington Arts Center/Maury School on Wilson Blvd., you may have noticed that the lawn currently features “Passage”, an exhibit which “explores themes of conflict, marginalization and the power dynamics of race.” According to Arlington Magazine, this exhibit includes 26 ships made of driftwood from the Chesapeake Bay, “evocative of the slave vessels that brought artist Lynda Andrews-Barry’s ancestors to Virginia’s shores centuries ago.”

The Maury School was named after Matthew Fontaine Maury, a U.S. Navy officer who became Secretary of the Navy of the Confederacy under Jefferson Davis. His naval navigation systems “significantly reduced the length of ocean voyages and allowed for more efficient trade and transport–of goods and people.”

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Community Matters is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

August 2020 marks the centennial of the ratification of the 19th amendment. As we reflect on the courage and tenacity of the suffragists and women’s rights leaders who secured the right to vote for primarily white women, it’s hard not to question the racism (and the sexism) of the movement.

Some argue it is not fair to judge those who lived in a different time using a modern day lens. Yet, there are several examples of those who took the unpopular positions of demanding equal voting rights and integration. Others argue that the white suffragists made strategic and political decisions to not support Black voting rights in order to secure passage of the 19th amendment. Yet, it took another 45 years after the passage of the 19th amendment to pass the Voting Rights Act, and some organizations continued to restrict their membership to whites only.

Arlington has several connections to suffragists and women’s rights activists. Sojourner Truth is well known for being one of the leading abolitionists and Black suffragists. Arlington County Library notes that in 1865, Truth accepted a position with the National Relief Association at Freedmen’s Village in Arlington Heights at the intersection between Columbia Pike and South Joyce Street.

According to a March 2018 Arlington Magazine article, in 1920, Gertrude Crocker, a noted suffragist and treasurer for the National Woman’s Party, opened the Little Tea House on Arlington Ridge Road. In the years that followed, the famed restaurant (which closed in 1963) was one of the first Arlington establishments to allow racially mixed groups to dine together.

While not “suffragists” in the traditional sense, as we commemorate the mission of earning the right to vote for women, it’s important to recognize the work of women who pressed for civil and women’s rights throughout the 20th century.

Arlington native Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, is a Civil Rights icon who participated in over 50 sit-ins and demonstrations by the time she was 23 years old, and happens to be white. For her actions she was disowned by her family, attacked, shot at, cursed at, put on death row and hunted down by the Klan for execution.

Another face of movement was the “colored women’s clubs” which were precursors to Black sororities (my own sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. is also celebrating our centennial this year) and organizations like the Links, Inc. and National Coalition of 100 Black women. While Black sororities are social and often host luncheons and galas, we are also professional organizations who all have missions to promote scholarship, service and political/social action. Democratic Vice Presidential pick Kamala Harris is a member of one of the largest Black sororities, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the Links, Inc., whose members have actively supported her throughout her career.

Pauline Ellison moved to Arlington in 1956, at a time when racial segregation was the norm. Ellison served on the Civil Service Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Committee, and the Arlington Community Foundation board of trustees. She was also a national president of The Links, Inc.

Voting rights is only one step towards equality. As you tune into or read some of the  hundreds of webinars, Facebook chats or news articles on the centennial of the passage of the 19th amendment, take some time to reflect on what equality meant on August 26, 1920, and what it means today. While not perfect, Arlington has our own examples of women who refused the status quo. Whether it was as a abolitionist, suffragist and business owner, civil rights activist, or local leader and the president of a Black women’s organization, their courage and tenacity also provides excellent examples of how we can continue the march to true equality in Arlington.

Krysta Jones has lived in Arlington since 2004 and is active in local politics and civic life. This column is in no way associated with or represents any person, government, organization or body — except Krysta herself.

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Community Matters is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” — Brene Brown

Those of us who are working to intentionally increase diversity in Arlington are consistently striving to achieve the right balance, in the right way, at the right time. Which diversities are the right diversities? How do we measure progress on diversity? Are diverse people held to a different standard? Are they sometimes expected to be twice as good, but also given more allowances when those in power are searching for diverse representation?

I believe it is important for those with underrepresented backgrounds to see people who look like us, in all fields. I believe that it’s important to have diverse political and ideological views represented to find the best solution. I also believe that how we live each day, in conjunction with our experiences, may give us a unique perspective on life and affect how we approach challenges. The challenge is how we get here.

When I founded Virginia Leadership Institute in 2006 (now known as Vote Lead Impact) our goal was to increase the number of Black elected officials in Virginia. We strived to make the number of African Americans serving in public office, from school board to Congress, proportional to the percentage of African Americans registered to vote in the Commonwealth.

Proportional representation is just one way to measure whether we have enough diversity. While working towards that goal, it is also important to consider the diversity among the groups of people we are recruiting, as no group is monolithic.  We may never reach full diversity in Arlington (no matter what our definitions of diversity are) but as we strive for it, here are a few points to consider.

Acknowledge our privilege  No matter what your privilege may be, we have to acknowledge it as we bring new people on board. It is easy to become comfortable in our circles. If we recognize the need for more diversity, inclusion comes after we identify our own circumstances and embrace those who are different.

Avoid tokenism — When we feel like we will be publicly scrutinized for our lack of diversity, it’s tempting to just pick anyone who would “check the box”, without looking at their qualifications. In the long run, selecting the most qualified person who meets all of our criteria, including diversity, is the best option.

Build a pipeline — Developing a pipeline should be a critical component of our growth strategy. Whether we are engaging youth and teaching them about our issue area, holding formal training on how to lead in our field or organization, or recruiting underrepresented populations to serve on subcommittees before joining the board or leadership, it is important to actively prepare future leaders.

Consider our recruitment methods — A common concern with increasing diversity and inclusion is that we can’t find the right people. Before beginning recruitment, we should expand our networks to develop relationships with new groups by intentionally reaching out to organizations and leaders in that community. Many organizations are adopting versions of the Rooney Rule, a National Football League policy that requires league teams to interview ethnic-minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs.

Focus on retention — We often put work into recruitment, but not on retention. We can help retain diverse team members by addressing problems immediately, confronting our personal biases and those of our team members, and structuring opportunities for members to learn from each other.

Ultimately, Arlington will have to determine our own calculus on which diversities we prioritize, and when and how we measure progress. As a start, we must sustain the dialogue and action that we have begun, no matter how uncomfortable it may become or how vulnerable we may appear.

Krysta Jones has lived in Arlington since 2004 and is active in local politics and civic life. This column is in no way associated with or represents any person, government, organization or body — except Krysta herself.

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