Virginia NAACP Condemns Madison County School Board Member Statement

Robert N. Barnette, Jr

RICHMOND, VA – The Virginia State Conference NAACP (Virginia NAACP) is disgusted and dismayed by the statements of Madison County School Board member Christopher Wingate concerning the school system’s goal of hiring a more diverse workforce, including African American teachers. Mr. Wingate expressed caution that this should not hinder the system’s “pursuit of excellence.” Mr. Wingate also stated at the school board retreat that “with equity, there’s a focus on race, and of course we shouldn’t focus on race.”

In addition, at the April school board meeting, board member Charlie Sheads blamed parents for achievement disparities and erroneously stated that “the mission of Black Lives Matter is to destroy the nuclear family.” The Virginia State Conference NAACP (Virginia NAACP) commends the Culpeper NAACP Unit for fighting for honest and accurate discussions about this country’s history including its sordid legacy of systemic racism.

President Robert Barnette, Jr. states, “The NAACP is dedicated to eliminating racial inequities that plague the educational systems in the Commonwealth; and the NAACP stands firmly against the criminalization of African-American students that is prevalent in the educational system; and Out of school suspension and expulsion policies disproportionately impact African-American students, increasing the likelihood of them entering the school-to-prison pipeline.”

Janai S. Nelson is President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) provides additional context to this disrespectful situation as follows; “Today’s fight for truth is part of that ongoing battle for justice. Without truth, there’s no basis for our demands for justice. And that’s why we must fight fiercely to preserve truth. To preserve history in our public schools and libraries to expand our knowledge of history and facts so another generation does not grow up lamenting what they did not learn in school. What they did not learn about who they are, who we are, and all of the possibilities of what we can become.”

The Virginia NAACP will continue its fight for equity and diversity in our public school system.

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Founded in 1935, the Virginia State Conference of NAACP Branches (Virginia NAACP) is the oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization in the Commonwealth, overseeing over 100 NAACP branches, youth councils, and college chapters. The Virginia NAACP is focused on being the preeminent voice of Black Virginians and advocating for policies and programs to benefit Blacks and people of color. You can read more about the Virginia NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas by visiting

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