HAMPTON, Va. (December 5, 2018) – Hampton University welcomed the VA ratify ERA Bus as part of a 10-day bus tour throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia to spread the word about a campaign to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
In late August, 2018, there was a state-wide campaign launched, and coincided with Women’s Equality Day, to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, which is a “proposed amendment to the United States Constitution designed to guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex; it seeks to end the legal distinctions between men and women in terms of divorce, property, employment, and other matters.” After Nevada’s ratification in 2017 and the Illinois ratification on May 30, 2018, only one more state is required to complete ratification. Campaign supporters are hoping Virginia will be that state.
“Hampton University has always been a pillar of historic change, and continued rights for equality. It makes sense this campaign would include Hampton University on this voyage to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey.
During the bus tour stop, several representatives from the organization Equality Now, plus Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy (D), who is one of the first female graduates from the Virginia Military Institute, stopped at the Hampton University Academy Building to speak to students about the initiative. “I’m really excited about the ERA Bus Tour that we’re doing throughout Virginia. We’re going to different areas in the state in order to educate and energize people about the Equal Rights Amendment, why it’s so important and why this has to happen now,” said Delegate Foy.
Delegate Foy went on to explain that today, gender equality is still absent in the U.S. Constitution.
“A lot of people will be stunned to know that women are not entitled to equality so when we enter the workplace, it is typical that for me as an African American woman, because of the melanin in my skin, I am paid around 80 cents to a White male’s dollar. A Latina is paid around 60 cents to a White man’s dollar. This is an issue that we are still battling in 2018,” Delegate Foy added.
In January, 2019, Virginia will open its 400th consecutive General Assembly session with a historical opportunity to be the 38th state to ratify this Amendment. Until that time, the campaign’s focus is to gather petition signatures and to keep ERA ratification front and center. There are currently 37 states in the United States that have ratified the Equal Rights Amendment. After the 38th state ratifies the Amendment, it will be added to the Constitution via the Judiciary branch or the Legislative branch.
“Virginia is currently in a unique position to be the 38th state to ratify the ERA. We have the votes, we just couldn’t get it to the floor, but this session, we think we can get it to the floor. It’s looking likely on the Senate side, now we just have to get the House to get on board,” said Kati Hornung, campaign coordinator for VA ratify ERA. “There’s a little bit of a competition going on around the country right now, because it could be Arizona, it could be North Carolina, it could be Georgia, it could be Virginia. Somebody needs to be that 38th state and be on the right side of history and we think it should be us.”
Hampton University students, including the William R. Harvey Leadership Institute Leadership Fellows, were invited to attend the Bus Tour stop, meet the delegation, and even ride the bus as it traveled through the Commonwealth of Virginia. “It was an honor for Hampton University to be the first stop on the 10-day tour throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. As an institution of higher learning and pillar of the community, we have 151 years of a remarkable and sustaining legacy, built upon character and excellence. It was no coincidence that the VA ratify ERA team reached out to ‘Our Home By the Sea, to share in this historic movement and to assist in leading the way to ratification,” said Dr. Jarris Louis Taylor, Jr., Director of the William R. Harvey Leadership Institute. “I have no doubt that Friday, November 9, 2018, will be earmarked as Hampton University and its students were at the forefront of turning a new page in history with the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution.”