Category Archives: Loudoun Branch in the News

Collision or Cooperation: Policing and Race

Thomson_Chapman-Interview-2-690x450Last week the Loudoun Tribune sat down with Loudoun’s top cop Mike Chapman and local NAACP president Phillip Thompson, to talk about policing, traffic stops, Black Lives Matter and more. The following are excerpts of that conversation.

Are relations between the African-American community and local police worse than in the recent past, or are incidents more visible thanks to body cams, cell phone cameras, YouTube and the 24/7 news cycle?

THOMPSON: Nationwide you’ve seen acts of violence against unarmed black men where there have been no consequences. When there are no consequences there is a concern that it’s open season. When you fly in a plane you’re taught to believe it’s safe until you see pictures of a plane crash. Then you start thinking about how safe it is. It’s the same thing with violence against young black men. Seeing it on television makes us feel less safe, and that adds to the perception that there’s a problem between law enforcement and the African-American community.

With everything going on, we haven’t had an act of racial violence here in Loudoun and my goal is to make sure it doesn’t happen.

Read more in the Loudoun Tribune

NAACP leader calls Loudoun County Public Schools’ diversity training ‘a joke’

In response to community criticism over the lack of diversity of its teaching staff, Loudoun County Public Schools is offering a “diversity training workshop” to all of its hiring managers this summer. A local NAACP leader says the effort is “a joke.”

LCPS_SealThe Loudoun chapter of the NAACP began pressing the school system to be more aggressive in hiring minority teachers in November when a school district report showed 88 percent of its teachers are white while 48 percent of its students are non-white. A community meeting on the subject was hosted by the school division and two parent groups in December. Shortly after the meeting, the School Board added money to its budget for the summer diversity training and to hire a personnel specialist to focus on the issue. The Loudoun NAACP says the school system’s latest efforts are not enough to combat the problem. The group says it plans on filing federal complaints about various “racial inequities” within the school system.

Read more in the Loudoun Times-Mirror

Thompson: Tolerance or Intolerance? Racial issues in schools warrant action by LCPS

Over the last 15 months since taking over as President of the Loudoun County NAACP, our organization has watched Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) flail its way through a series of racially charged issues with seeming abstinence to the fact that there is a community out here that is not only LCPS_Sealimpacted by its decisions, but, more importantly is paying attention to those decisions. As with the attempt to name a public school after a long dead racist segregationist or the perceived effort to re-segregate schools in Leesburg, it seemed that the decision makers in LCPS either believed that the residents were not paying attention to their proposals or that maybe they could not read or conduct basic research on the facts. Either way, in both instances, when the public raised concerns, some of these decision makers decided to attack the people questioning these proposals instead of listening to the community’s concerns.

Read more in the Loudoun Times-Mirror

Loudoun Public Schools host discussion on teacher diversity

More than 50 parents, community members and school staff discussed Loudoun’s teacher diversity on Dec. 9.

LCPS_SealSchool administrators, the Minority Student Achievement Council (MSAC), the NAACP and teachers shared their views on how the division can diversify its teaching staff at the Loudoun Education Alliance of Parents’ meeting at LCPS’ administrative offices.

The discussion was organized in response to figures in the school system’s annual report on ethnic make up, gender and education levels of students and teachers.

According to the report, 48 percent of the school division’s student body is non-white and 88 percent of its workforce is white.

“I hear stories of discrimination towards students and teachers across this division,” said Diana Lopez, Spanish teacher at J. L. Simpson Middle School in Leesburg. “With changing demographics in Loudoun, teachers need to be prepared to teach students from various backgrounds.”

Lopez said any efforts to create a more diverse teaching staff must start with “ensuring that LCPS has a reputation for being supportive of minority teachers.”

…Phillip Thompson, president of the Loudoun County chapter of the NAACP, said his organization would like to get funding from corporations in the county to give scholarships to future teachers still in school, with the understanding that they will come back to teach in Loudoun.

“We’ve got huge corporations in this county with lots and lots of money and we’ve got to figure out a way to use that money to recruit quality minority teaching staff,” he said.

Read more in the Loudoun Times-Mirror

Leesburg Diversity Commission links minorities with services

Nearly eight months after the Leesburg Town Council approved the town’s first Diversity Advisory Commission, the group is starting to make waves in the community.

The Loudoun County NAACP lobbied for the commission in order to foster diversity and inclusion within the town government workforce and the community. Now the entity serves minorities by getting them in touch with existing services available that they may not know about.

“The commission is identifying resources and services that are already out there that are helpful to low-income and minority populations,” said Betsy Arnett, staff liaison for the commission. “They want to connect those populations to the services that are out there.”

Read more in the Loudoun Times-Mirror.

Loudoun NAACP calls for more minority teachers at LCPS

The president of the Loudoun chapter of the NAACP is pressing the county’s school system to be more aggressive in hiring minority teachers.

LCPS_SealThe call for action comes after Loudoun County Public Schools released its annual report on the ethnic makeup, gender and education levels of students and teachers within the system.

The report shows that 48 percent of the school system’s student body is non-white while 88 percent of the teacher workforce is white.

“You cannot tell me that if minorities have moved into Loudoun County to make up fully 48 percent of the student population, minority teachers of the same race and ethnicity as the parents and students who live in this county will not move here to teach these kids. That excuse is not logical nor is it legitimate. To me these numbers represent a ‘prima facie,’” Loudoun County NAACP chapter president Phillip E. Thompson said in an email to the Times-Mirror.

Wayde Byard, spokesman for Loudoun County Public Schools, said the problem is one facing school districts nationwide.

Read more in the Loudoun Times-Mirror

Leesburg Panel Puts Spotlight On Town’s Increasing Diversity

While other cities across the United States are struggling with racial tension, Leesburg is working to be at the forefront in addressing diversity concerns.

“We have to all work together as a team,” said Enrique Gonzalez. He was tapped to chair the region’s first municipal Diversity Commission, created by the Town Council in March to improve relations with minorities. “We need to see how we can move this forward so we can avoid the problems that a lot of other cities are having.”

The driving force behind the creation of the commission came when the task force looked at diversity numbers within the town’s government.

Although 60 percent of the town’s residents were white, that group made up 90 percent of the town government’s workforce.

In November 2013, white men and women occupied 293 of the town’s 336 jobs.

“I sent a FOIA to the Leesburg government to see employment numbers, and they were worse than I thought,” Loudoun County NAACP President Phillip Thompson said, mentioning a Freedom of Information Act open records request. “This is a problem, and they needed to do something.”

Read more in Leesburg Today.

Va. crowd rallies for new memorial that honors slaves, Union soldiers

rallywapoSlaves were once sold on the steps of the old Loudoun County courthouse in downtown Leesburg, which bore stocks and whipping posts. Although 150 years have passed, the courthouse retains a symbol of its Civil War days: a statue of a Confederate soldier, rifle at the ready, facing west.

As the national debate over Confederate symbols on public property continues to gain steam since the June 17 slayings at a historic African American church in Charleston, S.C., dozens of people gathered at the courthouse Saturday morning calling for a change locally: They want a memorial that would also honor the lives of slaves and Union soldiers.

“Our history’s not being told from the standpoint of what really occurred,” said Phillip E. Thompson, president of the Loudoun NAACP, which organized the rally. “We think we’re sending the wrong message about Loudoun County and who we really are.”

Read more in the Washington Post.

Crowd Gathers To Commemorate The Role Of Loudoun Slaves

“I think we do need a memorial to those who died trying to stop slavery, including former slaves and escaped slaves who joined the Union forces,” [Mayor Kristen Umstattd] said. “We need a balance here at the courthouse. We can’t just have the Confederacy represented; we need the other side of the story told.”

rallyl2dThe Loudoun branch of the NAACP held a remembrance rally Saturday morning on the Loudoun County Courthouse steps once used for slave auctions.

The rally was held in remembrance of freed and runaway slaves who fought in the Civil War and served as a petition to county leaders to place a marker on the courthouse grounds in their honor, as well as denote the property’s role in the Underground Railroad that helped countless slaves escape to freedom.

After opening remarks from NAACP Loudoun branch President Phillip E. Thompson and welcoming remarks from Leesburg Mayor Kristen Umstattd, local author and historian Kevin Grigsby gave testimony about the soldiers and slaves who fought in the war.

Read more in Leesburg Today.

Leesburg residents rally for, against Confederate soldier monument

“Slaves were sold for 150 years at that site… and there’s nothing here designating any of that.”

rallywjlaAfter the shooting tragedy in Charleston, many communities across the south have debated when and where Confederate battle flags or monuments should be on public display. That debate arrived in Leesburg, Virginia Saturday.

The NAACP held a rally outside the Loudoun County Courthouse calling for changes on the courthouse grounds. The remembrance rally honored Union soldiers, slaves and abolitionists.

Event organizers said they wanted those lives honored – and their stories told – on the grounds. Right now, the only monument in the space honors Confederate soldiers.

NAACP Loudoun County Branch President Phillip E. Thompson said, “Slaves were sold for 150 years at that site… and there’s nothing here designating any of that.”

Read more at WJLA.com.