The Evolution of Alexandria, Virginia's Political Culture in the Last Decade

The last ten years have seen a dramatic shift in the political landscape, from the emergence of smartphones to the recognition of LGBTQ rights. African-Americans have been deeply involved in Virginia politics since the Civil War, and Alexandria's economy was in tatters by its end. In 1954, the Board of Education declared segregation in schools unconstitutional, and those who opposed school integration in Virginia attempted to close schools if the federal government forced them to integrate. It is unclear if the patterns identified by Chesson in Richmond were typical of other cities in Virginia and to what extent they differed from those of black officeholders and their participation in local politics in the state's counties. The Virginia General Assembly has recently taken commendable steps to raise awareness, register, and fund African-American historic sites.

In 1861, shortly after Virginia seceded from the Union, federal troops arrived in Alexandria to take possession of the city. By then, Republicans in Congress had ceased trying to force Southern states to abide by the Fifteenth Amendment, which allowed white men in Virginia and most other states to exclude African Americans from politics. Eventually, a group of experienced white political leaders from Virginia negotiated a compromise with President Ulysses S. Grant. The formal participation of blacks in Virginia politics after the Civil War may have peaked in 1881 when readjusters swept state offices and took control of both houses of the assembly.

During this time, virtually all African-American men active in Virginia politics were part of the Republican Party. In 1801, Alexandria was formally accepted by Congress and remained under its auspices until it was returned to Virginia in 1847. The Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute (later Virginia State University) was established as the state's first public university for African Americans and created the first psychiatric hospital for black Virginians. In 1789, a portion of Fairfax County and Alexandria were ceded by the state of Virginia to form part of the new 10-square-mile District of Columbia. He also established the Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute, which later became Virginia State University. It is likely that African-American women followed political events in a similar manner to white women in Virginia who had done so for decades. Over the last decade, Alexandria's political culture has undergone a significant transformation.

The Fifteenth Amendment allowed African Americans to participate in politics for the first time since Reconstruction, while the establishment of Virginia State University provided an opportunity for black Virginians to pursue higher education. The General Assembly has also taken steps to recognize and fund African-American historic sites throughout the state. These changes have enabled African Americans to become more involved in local politics and have helped shape Alexandria's political culture. The city has also seen an increase in progressive policies that support LGBTQ rights and other social issues. This shift has been driven by both African-American politicians and their constituents who are increasingly vocal about their support for these issues.

This has resulted in a more inclusive political environment that is more reflective of Alexandria's diverse population. The last decade has seen a dramatic shift in Alexandria's political culture. From increased recognition of African-American history to progressive policies that support LGBTQ rights, this transformation has enabled African Americans to become more involved in local politics and has helped shape Alexandria's political culture.

Bret Hokula
Bret Hokula

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