Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears made history this past November as the first Black woman — indeed the first woman ever — to hold a statewide office in Virginia. Additionally, she was also the first Black Republican woman elected to the House, the first female veteran, and the first legal immigrant woman when she won her race for House of Delegates in the 90th district.
In this first day of Black History month, here are ten quotes by Winsome Sears, that you may be inspired by her story.
On race: “We have a saying in church, ‘I may not be what I’m supposed to be, but I ain’t what I used to be.’ And that’s America. We are not back in 1963, when my father arrived at the height of the Civil Rights Movement and things were very bad for us as Black people. Are there changes that need to be made? Most assuredly. There is no country in this world that does not suffer from racism…But you have seen people who are dying to cross the border into America because they know that if they can get their foot on American soil, the trajectory of their lives will change — as it did for my father.”
On service: “When I joined the Marine Corps, I was still a Jamaican. But this country had done so much for me, I was willing, willing, to die for this country.”
On optimism: “Are you going to look at the glass as half full or as half empty? Because if it’s half empty that’s a negative view of life. That’s where too many of our political leaders come from and all it does is serve their, I think, nefarious agenda to divide us and to say you’re a victim, you’re always going to be a victim, and the other people are the oppressors and so you need us.”
On being LG: “People who look like me never would have imagined that I could be sitting here second in command of the former Capital of the Confederacy. I am the first woman—of whatever color—to be the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and I think that is what speaks volumes about today being Martin Luther King Jr. Day that we celebrate because this is what he fought for, equality. Not for us to divide ourselves by race.”
On equal opportunity: “I’m just going to repeat what… Biden and our current Vice President Harris has said about racism when they were asked, ‘Is racism systemic in America?’ Their answer was absolutely no. And so I am the embodiment of what we’re trying to achieve in America. We want everyone to have equal opportunity. And here I sit today to say it can happen. I am so tired of those who look at life as being the glass is half empty. What a negative way to continue to view life because you know, life is going to hit you hard and you have to be prepared for it. You come out of the womb screaming. That ought to be an indication of how things are going to be, the rich suffer-yes- the poor suffer and everybody in between. We can make it.”
On Nelson Mandela: “He wasn’t looking for retribution. He wanted to say let’s talk about what happened and let’s move on because we must,” she said. “We can’t keep dividing ourselves. Those are the kinds of leaders we’re looking for.”
On African American history: “If we’re going to teach about African American history, why just keep it to one month? Let’s teach it throughout. Let’s talk about these things. You can’t escape history. Let’s talk about the good, the bad and the ugly.”
On success: “I think I am a visible success story that says to people, ‘You can do it. You will do it. No matter your gender, no matter your color, even no matter where you were born.’ Because here I am, this is not my country, not my culture. I came from Jamaica and here, I have made it.”
On education: “You have to teach about the racial issues. We need to know where we were wrong so that we can move forward and right things. The way to right things is to have that opportunity to have a good education. It is to give parents choice. We’re going to teach everything, we’re not going to sugarcoat anything, because the one thing we’ve learned from history, as someone once said, is that we don’t learn from history.”
On hope: “We may all have come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now. My boat was a Pan Am Boeing 737 as an immigrant at the age of 6, and life was not easy, but here I am. Our children are not victims, they have a God-given spark. We’re going to ensure that it burns brightly, with hope and a future.”
And finally, Winsome Sears’ speech the morning after Election Day: “You are looking at the American Dream”
Jamie Owens lives in Virginia and admires Winsome Sears.